A navel stone, an omphalolith, looks and feels like a hard, smooth stone that forms in the navel or belly button.
Another term for a navel stone is an umbilical stone. They are unusual, and a person may not discover that they have one until a secondary condition, such as discomfort or infection, gets the person’s attention.
We’ll go through what a navel stone is, how it forms, and what you can do to prevent it.
What is it?
Hair, bacteria, keratin, and sebum comprise a navel stone.
Keratins are a collection of healthy proteins that offer strength and durability to the hair, skin, and nails.
Skin glands release sebum, an oily material that helps shield the skin from the environment.
These compounds may gather in the belly button and, over time, create a stone.
The visible area of the stone is generally dark brown or black, owing to the presence of the skin pigment melanin and the oxidation of fatty acids. The stone feels firm and smooth.
People with a lot of body hair and particularly deep navels are more likely to develop navel stones than the average person would expect to find them.
Are Navel Stone Dangerous?
The navel stone itself isn’t a health concern or an indication of an underlying illness. It’s basically a buildup of dirt and grease in an area that is hard to clean. But a stone might start to irritate the skin in and around your navel.
Skin infection in your navel might result from discomfort. This will require medical treatment. Your navel stone may be discovered by the doctor treating the skin problem.
Where do they come from?
In your skin, the sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oily substance. It generally protects and waterproofs your skin.
The top layer of your skin contains a fibrous protein called keratin (epidermis). It shields the cells of the epidermis from damage.
A navel stone is formed when sebum and keratin from dead skin cells gather in your belly button. The substance gathers and hardens into a compact mass. When it’s exposed to oxygen in the air, it becomes black via a process called oxidation.
The end result is a hard, black mass that may range in size from a speck to a glob the size of your belly button or even more.
Most navel stones aren’t uncomfortable and don’t create any symptoms while developing. They may be in people’s systems for years without them being aware of it.
Eventually, inflammation, infection, or an open sore (ulceration) might develop in your belly button. Symptoms like redness, soreness, stink, or drainage are frequently why a navel stone is detected.
Navel stone or blackhead?
Although blackheads and navel stones contain the same chemicals, they are not the same.
Blackheads grow within hair follicles when a follicle gets blocked, and sebum and keratin build up. They have a black look because the hair follicle is exposed, exposing the contents to air. This results in the oxidization of lipids and melanin.
A navel stone arises from sebum and keratin that gathers in your belly button.
One key distinction between the two is how they are handled. Navel stones are drawn out of the belly button, whereas blackheads are occasionally forced out of the follicle.
Blackheads are most typically treated with topical retinoids. A dilated pore of Winer (a huge blackhead) is removed by punch excision to prevent recurring.
Both may be looked at and taken care of by a dermatologist.
One doctor observed in a 2016 case reportTrusted Source that navel stones frequently do not produce symptoms.
A person may not be aware that they have one until a scrape, a cut, or an infection brings their attention to the region.
What Causes Navel Stones?
Not cleansing your belly button.
The main risk factor for a navel stone is not performing adequate belly button cleanliness. If you don’t frequently clean your belly button, chemicals like sebum and keratin may gather in it. These compounds may form into a hard stone and increase with time.
Belly button’s depth
Your belly button needs to be deep enough to gather these ingredients to produce a stone. A stone may then develop and grow. The deeper your belly button is, the more probable that toxins will gather in it.
When you have obesity, it might be difficult to reach and clean your belly button. Extra tissue in your stomach may also compress your belly button, making it more prone to hold gathered debris.
The hair surrounding your belly button might drive sebum and keratin toward and into your belly button. Belly hair also accumulates lint when it scrapes against your clothing. Your hair helps trap these elements in your belly button.
Rarely, an omphalolith leads to an infection and an abscess in the navel. An abscess is a deep accumulation of pus that comes from infection.
- Naval abscess symptoms include:
- Discomfort and swelling around the navel.
- Discomfort that is throbbing and localized to one place.
- Reddened skin around the navel.
- An increased temperature.
- Anyone who may have a navel abscess should undergo medical attention.
How to remove them
The treatment for navel stones is to take them out. Your primary care doctor should be able to remove most navel stones, or they can send you to a dermatologist who has more knowledge with them.
Usually, your doctor uses tweezers or forceps to remove out a stone. The belly button needs to be opened up a bit in rare circumstances to get the stone out. A local anesthetic is used during this procedure.
If an infection or skin ulceration is detected behind the stone, your doctor may treat it with medication.
Sebum is a sticky substance that might cause the stone to attach to the skin of your belly button. Olive oil or a glycerin solution often used to remove ear wax may be utilized to facilitate removal.
Can I remove it myself?
Some individuals remove navel stones themselves, but it’s safer to have your doctor do it. There are various causes for this.
- It might be hard to see within your own belly button.
- Your doctor has the equipment and skills to remove it safely.
- Inserting a sharp object like tweezers into your belly button might cause an injury.
- What you believe is a stone might possibly be something far more deadly, such as malignant melanoma.
- There can be inflammation, infection, or an open sore beneath the stone that requires medical treatment.
Do you need medical advice for this?
A doctor should be consulted by anybody who suspects they may have a navel stone.
If they are certain that the stone can be removed safely with just a little softening, they will either provide the user with instructions or remove it personally.
For anybody experiencing symptoms of a navel abscess, it is crucial to consult a doctor. Omphalolith-related navel abscesses are uncommon, but they may be unpleasant and need medical treatment when they do occur.
What else could it be?
The authors of a 2011 case report Trusted Source emphasize that a clinician should differentiate between an omphalolith and other forms in the navel, including:
- A keloid, a sort of elevated scar.
- The bulge on the skin is caused by dermatofibromas, which are benign growths on the skin.
- A malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
- Umbilical endometriosis, which entails tissue analogous to the uterus lining developing in the navel.
- Primary malignancy of the umbilicus, a tumor of this location.
- Umbilical metastasis, a form of cancer.
What you can do to prevent them
The greatest approach to preventing navel stones is keeping your belly button clean. As a bonus, it helps prevent other issues like foul smells and infections at bay.
While taking a shower or bath regularly may help keep it clean, your belly button does need a little additional care and attention.
If your belly button sticks out (an outie), use a soapy rag to properly wipe it.
If your belly button goes in (an innie), clean it periodically with soap and water with a cotton swab. Your belly button may be highly sensitive, so remember to be careful while using cotton swabs.