Belly button discomfort is often caused by poor hygiene. Cleaning your belly button well and drying it properly post-wash can help reduce pain caused by bacterial build-up.
However, in some instances, belly button pain is caused by more complex conditions. In this article, we’ll discuss what medical complaints cause belly button pain – and how to treat them. Finally, we’ll explain instances when belly button pain is severe enough that you must visit a doctor.
Causes of belly button pain
Belly button pain that’s related to other medical complaints is typically accompanied by other symptoms. Common causes of belly button pain include:
Overeating can result in indigestion that makes your abdomen and stomach bloat, increasing sensitivity throughout the whole lower body region. This sensitivity can result in belly button pain. Indigestion will resolve itself with time and rest.
Sharp or shooting pains in the belly button may be caused by a hernia. You can often see if you’re suffering from a hernia because a lump protrudes under the skin of your stomach.1
Hernias are internal body parts emerging through weak muscle or tissue. Laughter and coughing can both cause hernias to appear. Sometimes hernias disappear when you lie down.2
Crohn’s disease is a gastrointestinal illness which often goes undiagnosed until patients are in their late twenties to mid-thirties.3 In addition to belly button pain, people suffering from Crohn’s may experience diarrhoea, abdominal pain, a frequent need to defecate, and extreme weight-loss. 4
Pregnancy causes the ligament that connects the uterus with the groin to stretch. As this ligament stretches, it can contract during episodic coughing, laughter, or movement, and cause pain in the vicinity of the belly button.
How to treat belly button pain
Most belly button pain is brief and harmless. However, belly button pain can be caused by medical conditions which require treatment.
Treatment for hernias
Hernia treatment is decided in consultation with a medical professional. Often your doctor will send you for a scan to see what kind of hernia you’re suffering from. Once they know which internal body part is coming to the surface, they will decide on a treatment course, which in some cases includes surgery.5
Treatment for Crohn’s disease
Unfortunately, there’s no existing cure for Crohn’s. However, symptoms are alleviated by medical interventions, including medicinal treatment, enteral nutrition, or surgery if other treatment options have failed to relieve symptoms.6
Treatment for pregnancy-related ligament pain
Stretching and resting can help to relieve pain caused by an overstretched ligament. Try to move slowly or rotate your hips in a rhythmic circular motion whenever you feel you might laugh or cough.7
When to see a doctor with belly button pain
Most instances of belly button pain and discomfort are nothing to worry about.
However, you should visit a doctor if belly button pain is accompanied by any of these symptoms:
- Blood in your stool
- Extreme weight loss
- Vomiting episodes
- Pain during/after eating
These symptoms are indicative of severe conditions, including ulcers and appendicitis.8
Last updated: 19 March 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.
Author: Bhupesh Panchal