Psoriasis is a condition that causes patches of skin to become inflamed, scaly, and itchy or sore.
Researchers estimate that psoriasis impacts
Some of the areas most commonly affected by psoriasis can include the elbows, knees, and scalp. However, it can also impact other areas as well, including the belly button.
Keep reading to learn more about psoriasis of the belly button, what it looks like, and how it can be treated.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. In this type, defined areas of inflammation called plaques appear on the skin. These areas can be:
- red, pink, purple, or dark brown, depending on your skin tone
- dry and scaly
While plaques can happen on any area of the body, including the belly button, the most common areas to find them are the:
The belly button is also a rather common area that’s affected by a type of psoriasis called inverse psoriasis. This type of psoriasis is sometimes called flexural or intertriginous psoriasis.
Inverse psoriasis happens in and around folds or creases in the skin. In addition to the belly button, other areas where inverse psoriasis often happens are the:
- between the buttocks
- under the breasts
Due to increased moisture in these areas, inverse psoriasis isn’t scaly. Affected areas still appear inflamed, but are instead smooth and shiny. The skin is often itchy or sore, which can be further irritated by sweating and friction.
Skin cells are replaced more quickly in people with psoriasis. This causes them to accumulate on the surface of the skin, leading to the symptoms of the condition.
The causes of psoriasis are not entirely understood, but what we know is that the immune system becomes dysfunctional and parts of it do not behave as they should. This means that some immune cells mistakenly attack healthy skin cells. When this happens, the body makes new skin cells more rapidly than usual in order to compensate.
We still don’t know what exactly causes the immune system to behave in this way. Psoriasis does run in families, but exactly how genetics plays a role in the development of psoriasis is unclear.
Psoriasis often comes on in response to some sort of trigger. Some examples of psoriasis triggers are injury to the skin, stress, and certain infections.
It’s possible that certain combinations of genes may make a person more likely to develop psoriasis after exposure to a psoriasis trigger.
Inverse psoriasis has many of the same triggers as plaque psoriasis. An added trigger is friction on skin folds. As such, this type of psoriasis is more common in people with deep skin folds, including those who are overweight or have obesity.
There are several potential treatment options for psoriasis that affects the belly button. These include both home remedies and medical treatments.
There are a few things at home that you can do to help manage belly button psoriasis. These include:
- Avoiding triggers. Certain triggers can make psoriasis worse. These may be different from person to person. Learning your triggers and aiming to avoid them is important for managing psoriasis.
- Not scratching. Try not to scratch or pick at the area around your belly button. This can make your psoriasis worse and can also increase the risk of a bacterial infection, should a break in the skin occur.
- Using a cool compress. Areas impacted by psoriasis can be itchy or sore. Applying a cool compress may help to ease these symptoms when they’re bothering you and can reduce the urge to scratch.
- Moisturizing. If you have plaque psoriasis around your belly button, applying a fragrance-free moisturizer daily can help to alleviate dry, scaly skin.
- Managing weight. Inverse psoriasis is more common in people who are overweight or have obesity. If you have one of these conditions, have a conversation with your doctor about healthy weight management strategies.
- Considering clothing. Friction and sweating can further irritate inverse psoriasis, so try to wear clothing that has a looser fit and that breathes well.
- Cutting back on alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption can worsen psoriasis in some people. As such, aim to drink in moderation or not at all.
- Quitting smoking. Smoking is another thing that can make psoriasis worse. If you smoke, speak with a doctor about developing a cessation plan that you can stick to. This is often difficult but a doctor can help build a plan that works for you.
If you have very mild psoriasis, over-the-counter topical medications may help to manage your symptoms. The active ingredients in these medications include things like hydrocortisone and coal tar.
Medical treatment of psoriasis around the belly button may depend on the type of psoriasis you have, how severe your psoriasis is, and whether the condition involves the joints (psoriatic arthritis). Medical treatments generally fall into three categories:
- Topical. Topical treatments are creams, ointments, or lotions that you apply directly to your skin. Some examples include vitamin D analogues, calcineurin inhibitors, or topical corticosteroids.
- Systemic. Systemic treatments are taken orally or given by injection. There are two types of systemic medications for psoriasis:
- immunosuppressive drugs, which dampen the activity of the immune system and can include methotrexate and cyclosporine
- Phototherapy. Phototherapy involves exposing the affected areas to certain types of ultraviolet (UV) light.
Sometimes, multiple types of treatment are used for psoriasis. A doctor may start with the mildest treatment and then move on to stronger treatments.
For example, you may start with a topical treatment. However, a systemic treatment like an immunosuppressive drug or biologic may be suggested if the topical treatment isn’t effective.
Medical treatment for inverse psoriasis
The treatments above are broadly used for psoriasis. However, according to a
For example, the skin in the areas where inverse psoriasis occurs can be thinner or more sensitive. It’s also possible that skin-to-skin contact in the affected areas may interfere with some types of treatment.
The treatment of inverse psoriasis has a heavy focus on topical treatments. The
However, systemic treatments may be beneficial for some people. This includes people with widespread inverse psoriasis or people for which topical treatment have been ineffective.
There are some conditions that can look like psoriasis on the belly button, but may actually be due to something else. Let’s explore these now.
Bacterial skin infections happen when bacteria enter your body through a break in the skin. While a bacterial infection around the belly button can happen to anyone, those with a belly button piercing may be at an increased risk of an infection in this area.
Many bacterial skin infections are caused by a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Some strains of this bacteria can be resistant to antibiotics.
In addition to causing skin inflammation, bacterial infections can also be painful, itchy, and warm to the touch. Some may lead to discharge of pus, which can be foul-smelling and yellow or green in color.
Fungal infections can also affect the skin, particularly where two areas of the skin rub together. One reason for this is that heat and moisture can be trapped in these locations, providing fungi with an ideal environment in which to thrive.
Many fungal infections affecting the skin are caused by Candida species. These fungi can also cause infections of the vagina and mouth.
Fungal infections can cause skin inflammation, itching, and pain that may be felt as a burning or prickling sensation. These infections may also appear crusty, smell foul, or leak white discharge.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition characterized by inflamed patches of skin that are dry and itchy. Scratching can make eczema worse and can thicken skin in the affected area. Sometimes, eczema can look scaly.
Eczema also affects similar areas to psoriasis, including the elbows, knees, and scalp. However, it may also appear on any area of the body.
It’s believed that eczema happens due to a leaky skin barrier. Basically, moisture in the skin leaks out more readily, allowing it to become dry and irritated.
Contact dermatitis happens when something comes into contact with your skin and causes a reaction. Its symptoms are very similar to those of eczema. Some examples of potential triggers of contact dermatitis include:
- plants like poison ivy and poison oak
- soaps and detergents
- personal care products like cosmetics, perfumes, and shampoos
Seborrheic dermatitis is another type of inflammatory skin condition that happens where there are a lot of oil-producing (sebaceous) glands. It most commonly impacts the scalp, face, and folds in the skin.
In seborrheic dermatitis, the affected skin may be inflamed and swollen. It may also be itchy, greasy in appearance, or have white or yellow scaling.
Scabies are a type of skin infection that’s caused by a mite, a type of invertebrate related to ticks. You get scabies through having prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it.
Scabies can affect any area of the body. The waist- and belt line, which is around your belly button, is one of the commonly impacted sites.
Scabies causes a pimple-like rash to occur. This rash is intensely itchy, especially at night.
It’s always a good idea to contact a primary care doctor or dermatologist if you have an itchy rash around your belly button that’s:
- persistent despite at-home care
- not explained by another existing health condition
- significantly disrupting your daily life
If you’ve already been diagnosed with psoriasis, contact your doctor if:
- your symptoms have become worse
- your current medications aren’t effective at managing your symptoms
- you have signs of a skin infection
- you have signs of psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that can affect people with psoriasis
Psoriasis most commonly impacts the elbows, knees, and scalp, but it can also happen around the belly button. While plaque psoriasis can develop at this location, a type of psoriasis called inverse psoriasis also commonly occurs in this area.
Psoriasis is treated with both at-home care and medical treatments. The type of treatment that’s recommended will depend on the type of psoriasis you have and how severe it is.
If you notice an itchy rash around your belly button that’s persistent, severe, or can’t be explained by an existing health condition, see your doctor. If it’s not caused by psoriasis, it may be due to another condition that needs to be treated.