Belly Button Bacteria
Belly Button Bacteria: Your body’s dirty little secret
Guest Written by Kelsey McGillis
You’re hygienic and you shower regularly but your body may be home to a lot more bacteria than you think. And this bacteria often makes its home in a very unexpected place; your belly button.
A 2012 study by PLOS found that the navel was home to over 2000 species of bacteria…. Comforting isn’t it? Our resident skincare expert, Dr. Lisa Kellett backs up these extreme belly button bacteria claims. “Any fold where it’s warm and moist is where bacteria can breed. People who are very overweight and people with diabetes, especially Type 2, are at a higher risk of accumulating bacteria and getting infections to those areas,” says Kellett.
In addition to being overweight, having piercings is another increased breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Kellett explains, “With piercing [to the belly button] you have to be cautious because whenever you have a hole in the skin you can have that as a portal for infections.”
But let’s not fully make our belly button the scapegoat, as it turns out any area on our body where one area of skin is in constant contact with another is prone to bacteria build up. Kellett names a few spots to watch: under the breast fold, the underarms and the groin area.
While this might all seem basic, (after all, we’re all adults who have been using soap for a long time) the potential consequences of bacteria buildup might take you by surprise. Infections can result from bacteria in compact spaces such as the navel, including yeast, fungal and bacterial infections. And as Dr. Kellett warns, “If you have an infection and you become septic — which is an infection of the blood — it can be life-threatening.” When these infections occur, Dr. Kellett insists on the importance of seeing a physician for treatment.
As simple as it sounds, pay close attention to your body’s hygiene in the sneaky hidden spots, as to avoid these potentially life-threatening infections. Dr. Kellett recommends daily cleaning and drying of the navel, even suggesting a non Talcum-based powder to soak up any sweat throughout the day.