Infected Belly Button Piercing: Signs, Causes, How to Heal

Also known as infected navel piercing, belly button piercing infection, pain and bumps are all a problem when it comes to navel piercing healing. This type of piercing can add charm to your belly button especially if you have a toned flat stomach attractive to be seen. However, if these piercings are not taken good care of, they can get infections which may make them take several months to heal. An infection does not happen only to new piercing, as many cases have been reported of infected belly piercings after 6 months or even after years of completely healing.

Infected Belly Button Piercing

Due to the location of the navel – a dark and damp place – infections can be common especially if your navel is very deep. According to research findings, the navel is the second most risky place to have a piercing after the eye as the navel piercing hole can be a gateway for infections reaching your abdominal cavities. They say that, since the ring will always touch the clothing, spread of micro-organisms can easily reach your abdominal parts.
Researchers also add that there are inherent risks of injuries, belly button piercing scars, keloid formation, piercing rejection, stretch from weight gain or pregnancy, among other minor discomforts.
The main causes of belly button infections on the piercing include bacteria and allergic reactions. However, fungi, yeast, and other pathogenic microorganism can also cause infections but in minimum levels. These pathogens will tend to thrive if you create a favorable environment such as:

  • not clean your piercing regularly,
  • touching it with dirty hands,
  • poor personal hygiene, injuries,
  • unsterilized piercing equipment,
  • wrong piercing jewelry (in terms of size or material that cause allergies)

Your belly button can take approximately 9 to 12 months for it to heal completely. For those with low body strength, it can go up to two years. After you have had a piercing, the first few weeks of the healing time should be of great care to the piercing to avoid getting an infection. Your piercer will provide you with aftercare routine which you should follow to the latter to keep yourself away from risks.

Belly Button Piercing Infection Causes

In most cases if you are to have an infection on your navel piercing, it will occur a few days after the piercing. You will start experiencing the symptoms a few days after the piercing. While fresh body piercings can be a source of discomfort even when they are still fresh, it does not mean they are infected. It is also important for you to know that even an old belly button piercing can get infections if good care is not observed.

  1. Contaminated piercing equipment

According to some research, a piercing done by a gun more often will cause harm to the customer. This is because these piercing equipment are known to be difficult to disinfect.

  1. Poor quality jewelry

The quality of the rings or studs you use on your belly button matters. Navel piercing jewelry, especially cheap and fake ones are a major cause of infections since they break easily and cause irritation on the skin. Some will cause allergic reactions. The risk of belly button piercing is higher if the area has not healed.

  1. Poor aftercare activities

This is one of the major causes of infections. It involves things like touching the wound with dirty hands, poor cleaning techniques and lack of ventilation which in turn result to an infection. Contaminating the area can only cause problems and diseases.

Infected Belly Button Piercing Bump

In the extreme point of infection you may end up developing a pimple or bump on your belly button piercing. This is an alarm that your condition requires immediate care response. You can visit your health care provider who can suggest the best treatment that will work well for your condition. If you try home remedies for some time without noticing a change, stop using them and see your doctor for diagnosis and best treatment.
A bubble or bump on belly button piercing
When dealing with lumps that develop on your navel piecing, there are two types of bumps in this case;

  • Bump without infection – for example, granulomas is a bump that forms as a result of overgrown body tissue and may not be due to an infection
  • Bump with infection – When the bump resembles a pimple and contains a discharge, there is a reason to worry of an infection.

As we said earlier, formation of a bump on your pierced belly button is a common sign that it is infected. This condition usually takes place after the few initial weeks of the piercing. If no quick response is taken to ascertain the cause of the bump and treatment carried out, it may develop into a scar or keloid.
Research results shows that most people tend to get best and quick relief when the use some good home remedies such as tea tree oil followed by the warm saline water compresses.  Piercing solutions have also been found helpful in getting rid of belly button piercing infected bumps.
Moreover, if you follow various ways as outlined by the piercer on how to clean an infected belly button piercing, it can help in getting rid of the bump or bubble on it. There are those who prioritize on visiting their doctors. However, seeking medical attention may be the only option if the infection is not responding to aftercare treatments.

Symptoms of Infected Belly Button Piercing

There are many symptoms that will tell you that your belly button piercing is not in normal condition and this may include an abscess, pain, green pus, serious irritation and sometimes itchiness. The signs and symptoms of the infection may vary from person to person depending on the cause of it. The following are the common signs in details that show your belly button piercing is infected.

  1. Cyst or abscess with pus

A swollen pocket on your navel piercing that contains pus is an abscess. Any abscess that forms on your body is a clear indication that you have an infection. The swelling caused by an abscess may be accompanied by some shooting pain. Further symptoms may be witnessed as the cyst or abscess advances to cellulitis. If the cyst punctures, the abscess may discharge a clear liquid. In an advanced stage of infection, the color may change to grayish, then to yellowish pus and green pus.

  1. Discharge

You can have a discharge from your piercing even if it is not affected. A clear discharge immediately after the piercing is not from infection. For an infected navel, the discharge may be accompanied by some pain or change of color. While urachal cysts are the main cause of drainage from belly button, causes relating to your piercing may include thrush, yeast infections and bacterial infections. If you see a discharge of any color oozing from your navel, see a doctor immediately for treatment.

  1. Green pus

As I have said above, a clear fluid oozing slowly from the navel, especially with a new piercing, might be normal, as it is usually just lymph fluid. However, green pus discharged from the navel can mean an infection is in an advanced stage. A yellowish to greenish pus is likely to have a foul smell. Most people notice that their belly buttons smell like cheese or poop due to these infections.

  1. Bump or keloid

The bumps that result from infections may look like small pimples or a rash on your navel area. It is important that you get them treated fast. Fungal infections on a pierced belly button are common and may have signs such as rash or pimples. Keloids on the other hand may develop from the healing process. Keloids worsen if the area has an infection that won’t go away or keeps recurring. Keloids are likely to form closer to the navel piercing ring.

  1. Irritation, redness and swelling

Irritation and swelling is normal for new piercings. This should however not last for more than a week or two. Swelling and redness are signs of belly button infection, especially after healing. The irritation comes from the activity of bacteria on the skin. If your navel is swollen, apply a cold pack to relieve the swelling as you seek proper diagnosis and treatment.

  1. Pain, hurt or aches from navel piercing

Pain and discomfort are major signs of something having gone wrong. For fresh piercings, a little pain is normal, but for already healed navel piercings, hurting or throbbing aches are a sign of a developing infection. While a slight pull of the belly button ring can make it hurt, the pain should subside rather quickly instead of increasing in intensity.

  1. bubble, blood blister or red spots

A blood blister is a small pocket filled with blood. These usually form around the piercing hole. Red spots are not always due to infections on navel piercings. Mishandling of the ring can cause a bruise around the hole, causing a blood blister to form. You may also see red streaks and red spots. However, in some instances, red spots and blood blister bubbles can be a symptom of an early cyst or abscess forming.

  1. Itchy belly button piercing

Itching is one sign of either a fungal infection or an allergic reaction. While itching can be caused by foreign irritants such as belly button lint, contact dermatitis and bruising, if the piercing is still not healed yet it starts to itch, an infection is likely to have occurred.

Healing Belly Button Piercing

Although these piercings look great, the belly button healing process takes a long time. Within this duration, it is possible to experience a lot of events that could delay healing. To make sure that the belly button piercing healing is smooth, you need to pay attention to the aftercare procedures. Keep the piercing clean and avoid any trauma being exerted on it.
Healing belly button
To facilitate healing, it is important that you clean up the piercing thoroughly and regularly. Use a fragrance free mild soap to wash the piercing. Avoid cleansers that contain alcohol and dies as well. The navel piercing should also be given saline soak treatments twice each day. Once done with cleaning the area, it is advisable to use paper towels to pat the area dry. Avoid rubbing the wound with a towel as this could irritate the piercing. Also watch out if you are using a towel. It has to be sterilized to avoid transferring micro-organisms to the wound which could cause infections.

Belly Button Piercing Abscess

Swelling can occur in both a new or old piercing. In the initial stages of healing, redness, swelling and itchy feeling are normal. These tend to reduce with time. In case they do not subside or occur past this initial stage, this may suggest an infection. This should be monitored closely as persistent swelling that occurs along pus, redness around and hurts could be a sign of infection.
With old piercings, swellings could occur if the piercing is subjected to trauma and one side is scarred and hard as a result of formation of scar tissue. To get rid of the swelling and red coloration, apply ice on the piercing. Ensure it is wrapped up and apply it on and off for five minutes until you feel better. You could also try chamomile tea soaks to reduce irritation.

Rejected Belly Button Piercing

In doing a belly button piercing, there is always a chance that the piercing will migrate or will be rejected. This can be very frustrating, not to mention unsightly. Rejection happens when the body doesn’t accept the metal from the ring. The immune system will push out the body piercing and will heal the skin until the piercing no longer sticks. The piercing can migrate to another part of the abdomen. What increases the risk of piercing rejection and what can be done about it?
Symptoms of Belly Button Piercing Rejection
There are some signs you can look out for that can help you know if you are suffering from piercing rejection of belly button. Here are the signs:

  • The skin is getting so thin that you can see the ring just beneath the skin.
  • You have a great deal of skin sensitivity and a continual soreness in the area of the belly button.
  • The pierced holes become bigger in preparation for navel piercing rejection.
  • The ring or bar around your belly button hangs looser than it was when you first had it pierce.
  • There is drainage coming from the belly button holes.
  • You are developing a keloid scar in the area of the piercing.

Belly button piercing rejection can lead to a scar, which is the most worrisome sign. This is the last stage of a migration of the pierced ring out of the body. Because of the chance of scarring, you should take the ring out as soon as you realize your body is rejecting it. It doesn’t always happen as soon as you get the piercing and can take up to three years to reject the ring.
If you develop a very big scar, it can be difficult to get rid of and they fade very slowly. If the scar bothers you, you can seek the advice of a plastic surgeon or dermatologist who can help resolve the scar or lessen its appearance.

Infected Belly Button Piercing Pictures

For us to give strength on our case on signs and symptoms, we have included a few infected belly button piercing pictures in this post. They will help you to assess your case to know if you are under an infection or not. The photos and images should be important in helping you visualize how an infected belly piercing does look like.

How to Treat an Infected Belly Button Piercing

Treatments and care options can help get rid of infections on the belly ring area. If you practice proper aftercare before and after healing your piercings, you might be able to prevent infections. After an infection though, here’s how to treat an infected navel piercing.

  1. Antibiotics to cure infected navel piercing

If you get an infected belly button piercing due to invasion by bacteria, antibiotics are recommended for curing the infection fast. Prescription antibiotics are highly recommended to over-the-counter antibiotic medications.
As soon as you see any of the signs and symptoms discussed above, and severe ones such as fever and nausea, see a doctor immediately for proper treatment. Your doctor may prescribe topical creams or oral antibiotics depending on the type and severity of the infection.
Antibiotic creams and ointments can be used especially if you have a skin rash around the navel. These can also help if your belly button is itching. However, if the area starts to develop a rash after you start applying the OTC ointment, stop it because it could be an allergic reaction. If you apply antibiotic ointments on body piercings, remove any excess. This will ensure that the pierced area is well ventilated to prevent any anaerobic bacterial activity that can make the wound rot.

  1. Tea tree oil home remedy

Tea tree oil is one of the best home remedies for infected navel piercings and rings. It has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. If you are looking to heal a navel piercing naturally at home, you can apply this treatment.
According to, tea tree oil tea tree oil will fix the belly ring infection by dehydrating it. It will get rid of bumps in the navel area. If the infection comes from gram-negative bacteria, this home remedy will get rid of them. Do NOT use tea tree oil if you have a sensitive skin.

  1. Use sea salt water

A saline solution made from sea salt will also treat an infected belly piercing. This treatment should mostly be applied after washing or bathing in order to reduce dampness in the navel area. According to the National Health Service (UK), a saline solution will remove any water and discourage the growth of bacteria. Here’s how to fix an infected belly button piercing using sea salt solution.

  1. Epsom salt for navel piercing infections

Another saline solution to treat a navel piercing infection at home is using Epsom salt. Epsom is magnesium sulfate and can help to not only reduce chances of an infection but also heal it altogether Epsom salt is easy to use. Simply have an Epsom salt bath and have it regularly

  1. Apply a cold compress

A cold compress is helpful especially of the piercing is swollen, inflamed or is aching. If your belly button piercing infection is bruised and swollen skin, wrap a cold pack in a clean towel and apply it on to the infected area. Avoid placing ice directly onto your skin. It will damage the tissues and slow down the healing process.

  1. warm compresses

When dealing with infected piercing, this will help improve the flow of blood to the infected area. This will speed up the healing process.
Ensure that you apply a warm compress on the navel daily for about 20 minutes. This will make pus (if any) drain faster and make the infection heal faster.

  1. White vinegar treatment

You can use this to stop the discharge from a belly button piercing infection. According to research findings, an acid in white vinegar and can help stop infections from spreading. Here’s how to heal a pierced belly button with infection using white vinegar.
Just mix two parts of warm water with two parts of white vinegar. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it on the belly button piercing wound. Rinse the wound using warm water after 15 min.