The reason why your belly button smells funny

Belly buttons can be cute, but they don't really serve any purpose. That doesn't mean you can just ignore your navel, though — because if you do, it can start to stink. Yes, really. So why does your belly button smell funny, anyway? While all belly buttons can have a slight tinge of an odor, which can be totally normal and healthy, there are a few things to look out for if you notice a smell, and a few different reasons it can happen.

First, all belly buttons (but particularly innie belly buttons) are more prone to developing a funky smell. Even if your button is infection-free, your innie belly button sits there and can collect sweat, lint from your clothes, and dirt from the great outdoors. Also, the belly button is host to quite a few different types of bacteria, including staph, strep, and a few others that are less familiar (via Rob Dunn Lab). Basically, this bacteria feast on whatever is inside your navel, and this is what leads to the bad smell (via Healthline).

How to clean your smelly belly button

A little reek doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong — however, you're probably going to want to clean it out just to be on the safe side. UMPC Health Beat writes that regular bathing or showering can remove a lot of muck, and if you have an outie button then you're probably done once you hop out of the shower.

Those with innies, though, might need a little more elbow grease to really get into those crevices and clean them really well. A simple salt solution (around 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water) should do the job — dip a washcloth-clad finger into the solution and whirl it gently around your belly button a few times. Rinse with plain water and pat dry, and presto, you have a clean navel. 

Signs your belly button stink could be serious

There are a few signs to watch out for, though, that could indicate a more concerning problem. If you experience any of the following, you're probably going to want to visit a doc to make sure you don't have an infection. Symptoms of infection include red and itchy skin in the area, particularly foul smells, swelling, discharge that is green or yellow, persistent pain, or blistering in the area.  

So, a little belly button funk is probably normal, but more than that, coupled with the above symptoms, could indicate that you might have an infection going on and should seek medical care. Otherwise, your belly button is just acting like what it is — a useless body part that looks cute sometimes, but collects gunk for no good reason at all.