Why Does Your Belly Button Smell? Dr Answers This + More Embarrassing Medical Questions

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From hemorrhoids to stinky belly buttons (eww), no matter how embarrassing you think a medical question is, you should still ask a doctor about it.

Dr. Anish, Chief of Gastroenterology at the University Medical Center of Princeton is always game to answer any and all questions you have.

Is There a Way to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids for Good? -- Denise, East Windsor, NJ
According to Dr. Anish, it all comes down to pressure… especially for those who are pregnant. Between growing bellies, constipation during the 3rd trimester and pushing during birth, all of that pressure can lead to internal and/or external hemorrhoids.

He says the good news is that they almost always get better after delivery, and even years after. The bad news is they’ll never disappear completely -- at least not without surgery.

Here’s what you can do to help keep them at bay:
-- Fiber, exercise and water can help prevent flare-ups and keep stool soft.
-- If you happen to have a flare-up, over-the-counter creams are good for intermittent symptoms. If the symptoms aren’t better in about one week, or they’re coming back often, that’s when you need to see a physician for further treatment.
-- Stop using your phone while on the toilet! Dr. Anish says a recent study shows that 90% of people use their phones on the toilet, causing them to be on the toilet longer. That worsens hemorrhoids.

Why Does My Linty Belly Button Sometimes Smell? -- Lori, Mertztown, PA
Dr. Anish says that linty belly buttons are quite common. The lint comes from fibers on clothing, and it isn’t anything concerning. However, if it smells foul and that smell has been there a long time, there could be up to 67 different types of bacteria accumulating in there!

One of our brave (and anonymous) staffers offered to let Dr. Anish scan their belly button using 3M’s Luminometer machine. This machine is used to test surfaces for contamination in hospitals and food service preparation. In this case, we’re using it on a belly button!

Keep in mind, any number registered over 150 means the surface is contaminated. The anonymous belly button came up with… 9,500! Eep!

The good news is, a quick shower with extra, careful attention to the belly button using basic soap will improve things a lot, and after our staffer did a quick cleansing, the number dropped by 7,500. Phew!

Bottom line, if it smells, it hurts, or there’s discharge -- go and see a doc.

Is There a Way to Heal the Endless Cycle of Dry, Cracked Lips?
-- Ashley, Norwalk, CT
We’ve all been there, our lips feel like they’re dry so we lick them in an attempt for temporary relief, except, it doesn’t help anything at all. It makes your lips even drier than they were before! Dr. Anish says the combination of cracked lips and moisture getting trapped in the corners of your mouth can lead to redness, inflammation and white crusting -- which may be a sign of a fungal infection called angular cheilitis.

If your lips are feeling dry, and lip balm just won’t do, try this at-home remedy:
Mix together a small amount of water, honey and sugar. Gently rub it on your lips and leave on for about 15 seconds. Wipe if off and your lips will feel great!


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