Sometimes people find a fuzzy little ball of fibers in their navel. Some refer to this as belly button lint, while others call it belly button fluff, navel lint, or navel fluff.

According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, research in 2002 concluded that belly button lint is a combination of body hair, skin cells, and clothing fibers.

If your belly button lint smells, it’s likely that your belly button smells. And your belly button typically has an odor for one of two reasons: hygiene or infection.

Navel hygiene

In a 2012 study at North Carolina State University, researchers found that almost 70 different types of bacteria reside in the average belly button.

If you don’t specifically wash your navel when you’re in the bath or shower, bacteria combined with the dirt, oil, sweat, and dead skin trapped in your navel can create a noticeable smell.

Bacterial infection

If you don’t practice good navel hygiene, eventually you may end up with a bacterial infection. Along with an odor, a bacterial infection might also include a brownish or yellowish discharge.

Your doctor will most likely recommend that you keep your belly button clean and dry and might prescribe antibiotics such as:

Yeast infection

Your belly button provides an excellent damp, dark environment for a type of yeast called Candida that can cause a yeast infection known as candidiasis.

Candidiasis can result in a red, itchy rash along with a white discharge. There will most likely be an unpleasant smell, too.

Your doctor may recommend that you keep your navel clean and dry and apply antifungal cream such as:

  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex)
  • miconazole nitrate (Micatin, Monistat-Derm)

Belly button lint is common and harmless. However, if it looks unusual, it could indicate that you should be more careful with navel hygiene.

To reduce belly button lint and have a healthier navel keep your belly button clean and dry.