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How to actually clean your belly button (because you're probably doing it wrong)

We're sorry, we know this isn't the most appealing of topics, but most of us don't give our belly button the attention it deserves. And no, we don't mean with belly button piercings (which are back, FYI). We mean: cleaning our belly buttons which, spoiler alert, most of us don't know how to do properly.

So, in true GLAMOUR style, instead of shying away from the rather gruesome topic, we're going to tackle it head on and seek out expert advice to answer your musings once and for all. Disclaimer: If you're eating your lunch, click away now.

First thing's first — cleaning your belly button isn't always exactly pleasant. It can feel a bit ticklish or even downright weird. Plus, it's an area many of us often forget to focus on during our daily shower. Nevertheless, it's important we don't neglect it.

As Dr Lucy Glancey, the founder of Dr Glancy Clinics, explains, just like any other part of your body, your belly button should also be frequently washed, particularly if you’ve got a belly button piercing and don’t change the stud too often."

As one recent viral TikTok video from Dr. Karan Raj very vividly illustrated, the belly button really can accumulate a lot of truly horrific gunk. We warn you, this video is pretty vile — and you won't be able to unsee it!

“All flesh holes can build up with sweat, dead skin cells, oils, clothing fabric, bacteria and forbidden cheese,” says Dr Raj.

He adds, "If not washed out on a regular basis, this material can accumulate and harden into an omphalolith – a belly button stone. Belly button stones come in a wide array of colours, it's usually black but can be a light brown." Ok, ew ew ew!

Dr Glancey agrees that as gross as it is, regularly cleaning out the belly button is essential because it really can get gross if left to its own devices. "The belly button area is dark and moist and therefore becomes a breeding area for bacteria and yeast. Left untouched, the build-up of dirt, dead skin, bacteria, sweat, soap, shower gel and lotions and potions can lead to crustiness, scabs, unsavoury smells and possible infection."

In fact, according to a 2012 study published in National Geographic, there are 1,458 different species of bacteria that are “new to science” that have been found in belly buttons. Deep breaths, people.

This article was originally published in Glamour UK.

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