Gross Talk: Yo, What’s Wrong With My Belly Button?

Last night, I was reclined on my bed, reading my Twitter feed on my iPad — I am such a modern gal! — when I felt a weird pricking in my abdomen. My belly button, to be more specific. I lifted my shirt to get a better look, my index finger doing the bulk of the investigating. I felt more pricking and my finger unearthed some crusty gunk. Normally such a discovery would excite me; I am fascinated by the gross things our bodies flake off and have been known to peel my own foot skin and pick at head scabs. But my initial glee was thrown off by, of course, the naval pain and the fact that underneath the crusty bits, my belly button was moist.

I hate the word moist and I resent having to use it to describe a part of my body. I prefer wet, but “wet” implies a certain volume of discernible liquid and that doesn’t apply here. It’s not like my belly button was gushing fluid. It just didn’t feel dry inside. I decided to poke around gingerly with a q-tip, hoping I could pick up enough of whatever was making my button moist to identify a color. No such luck. So I went to bed. This morning I woke up and the crust had returned! There’s also a small dot of redness inside, though the whole belly button isn’t inflamed.

This situation called for Googling. “Belly button pain,” “belly button moist,” and “belly button redness” brought up a wealth of possible diagnosis, including appendicitis, ulcers, gallbladder disease, and my personal favorite, pregnancy. (I have vetoed the latter as I have been spotting all month after trying to skip my period using my birth control pills.) I read one horror story about an infected cluster of ingrown hairs inside the belly button! Another possible culprit: a fungal infection, although apparently my belly button would have a funky smell if that were the case (it doesn’t). Sexy!

For the time being, I am going to leave the area alone and resist the urge to pick at any crust that forms. If the redness, pricking pain, and, ick, moisture doesn’t go away in a couple of days, I’ll go to the doc and report back. But in the meantime, have you ever experienced anything like this with your belly buttons? What was the cause? Feel free to get way TMI in the comments.