Science Websites

Everyone has lots of bacteria… living in their belly button

The Belly Button Book
The Belly Button Book

Have you ever taken a good look at your belly button?

We’re talking some serious navel gazing here, and we’re not talking about simply picking the lint out of it.

Because according to researchers in North Carolina, “very few people wash their belly buttons out with soap

This is according to the BELLY BUTTON BIODIVERSITY PROJECT, which had researchers swap participants’ belly buttons for bacteria to see what grows in that bodily indent.

Hey, it’s warm. Occasionally moist. Rarely cleaned. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, they found some Staphylococcus epidermidis (the most common skin bacteria), but also Muicrococcus luteus and Pseudomonas. For those Web Watch readers who were wondering, M. lueteus is known for being able to degrade toxic organic pollutants and has a tolerance to metals and is often found in oil spills, while Pseudomonas has been linked to causing urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections — a whole lot of infections, basically. 

So yeah, you’ll want to scrub out your belly button on a regular basis – it’s not just a lint gatherer.