Overview

Bleeding from your bellybutton can have several different causes. Three of the most likely causes are infection, a complication from portal hypertension, or primary umbilical endometriosis. Keep reading to learn more about bleeding from the bellybutton and what should do to treat it.

Infection

Infection of the bellybutton is common. You’re at increased risks of infection if you have piercings near your naval, or bellybutton, area. Poor skin hygiene can also lead to an increased chance of infection.

Infection is common in the bellybutton because the area is dark, warm, and moist. This contributes to bacterial growth, which can lead to an infection.

Learn more: What to do with an infected bellybutton piercing »

Symptoms

Your symptoms will differ depending on the cause of your infection. If you have a bacterial infection, for example, you may have different symptoms than you would if you have a fungal infection. General signs and symptoms include:

  • tenderness
  • pain
  • redness or skin coloration changes in or around the naval area
  • an itching, tingling, or burning sensation
  • a pus-filled abscess, which could signal a bacterial infection
  • swelling on or around your bellybutton
  • a bellybutton that’s warm to the touch
  • a foul smelling discharge that may appear white, yellow, green, gray, or brown
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • bleeding

You may only have some symptoms, depending on the cause of the infection.

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have an infection, they’ll begin with a physical exam. They’ll also collect a sample from your bellybutton with a swab. This sample can be tested. The results will help your doctor determine the cause of your infection. Knowing the cause will help your doctor determine a treatment plan.

Treatment

If your abdomen is infected, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes in addition to medication. Lifestyle changes may include:

  • wearing loose clothing
  • maintaining good personal hygiene
  • keeping the infected area dry
  • removing any jewelry from the piercing

If you have a yeast infection, your doctor will prescribe an antifungal powder or cream. Other bacterial infections are often treatable by rinsing the area with warm saline water. Make sure you dry the area thoroughly after rinsing it. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotic creams that you apply directly to the infected area. They may prescribes oral antibiotics if your infection is severe.

Portal hypertension

Portal hypertension occurs when the large portal vein that carries blood from the intestines to the liver has higher-than-normal blood pressure. The most common cause of this is cirrhosis. Hepatitis C can also cause it.

Symptoms

The symptoms of complications from portal hypertension may include:

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects the bleeding is a result of portal hypertension, they’ll perform a series of tests, such as:

They’ll also do a physical exam to identify any additional symptoms and review your medical history. They may perform blood tests to check your platelet and white blood cell (WBC) count. An increased platelet count and decreased WBC count could indicate an enlarged spleen.

Treatments

Treatments may include:

Primary umbilical endometriosis

Endometriosis only affects women. It occurs when the tissue that makes up the lining of the uterus begins to appear in other organs in your body. This is a rare condition. Primary umbilical endometriosis occurs when the tissue shows up in the bellybutton. This can lead to bleeding of the bellybutton.

Symptoms

Symptoms of primary umbilical endometriosis may include:

  • bleeding from the bellybutton
  • pain around your bellybutton
  • discoloration of the bellybutton
  • swelling of the bellybutton
  • a lump or nodule on or near the bellybutton

Diagnosis

Your doctor may use an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI to determine if you have umbilical endometriosis. These imaging tools can help your doctor examine the mass of cells or lump on or near your bellybutton. Primary umbilical endometriosis is seen in up to 4 percent of women who have endometriosis.

Treatment

Your doctor will likely recommend surgery to remove the nodule or lump. Your doctor may also recommend treating this condition with hormone therapy.

Surgery is preferred over hormone treatment because your risk for recurrence is less following surgery than it is with hormone therapy.

When should you see your doctor?

You should always see your doctor if you have bleeding in or around your bellybutton. You should also see your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • a foul smelling discharge from your bellybutton, which could indicate an infection
  • redness, swelling, and warmth around the site of a bellybutton piercing
  • an enlarged bump near or on your bellybutton

If you have black, tarry stools or vomit a dark, coffee-colored substance, you may have bleeding in your digestive tract. This is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical attention.

What is the outlook?

Infections are preventable and treatable. Contact your doctor as soon as you suspect an infection. Early treatment can help prevent the infection from getting worse.

Portal hypertension can become very serious. If you don’t get treatment quickly, the bleeding can become life-threatening.

Umbilical endometriosis is usually treatable with surgery.

Tips for prevention

It may not be possible to prevent bleeding from your bellybutton, but you can do things to reduce your risk:

  • Wear loose clothing around your abdomen.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene, especially around the bellybutton.
  • Keep the area around your bellybutton dry.
  • If you’re obese, reduce your sugar intake to help prevent yeast infections.
  • If you believe that you may have a bacterial infection, clean your bellybutton with warm saline water and pat it dry.
  • Properly care for any piercings in the naval area.
  • Reduce alcohol intake to prevent any liver damage that could lead to cirrhosis. This is a risk factor for developing portal hypertension.