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Psoriasis in the Belly Button: Symptoms and Treatment

Posted on January 09, 2023
Medically reviewed by
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Article written by
Joan Grossman

Psoriasis in the navel (belly button) is usually associated with inverse psoriasis, sometimes called flexural psoriasis or intertriginous psoriasis. Although typical plaque psoriasis affects the outsides of the knees and elbows, inverse psoriasis occurs in folds of skin and can also show up in areas such as the groin and genitalia, armpits, and under the breasts. Inverse psoriasis in the belly button frequently develops with other forms of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

MyPsoriasisTeam members sometimes talk about their experiences and frustrations with psoriasis in the belly button. “I have had psoriasis for 45 years. It never ceases to amaze me where it gets, even in my navel. I am just sick of psoriasis. It rules my life,” a member wrote.

Another member said, “I went into remission, and the psoriasis on my scalp and hands remains gone to this day. Still have spots on my thighs and have developed several new patches on both knees, and my entire navel area is a patch about the size of a golf ball.”

Understanding more about psoriasis in the belly button can help you get the care you may need.

Causes of Psoriasis in the Navel

Inverse psoriasis is an uncommon type of psoriasis. Like the other forms, inverse psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, in which a faulty immune system causes inflammation. In immune-mediated diseases, as opposed to autoimmune diseases, the exact source — or antibody — of the immune disorder is not known. In the case of psoriasis, certain immune pathways are overactive, leading to inflammation of the skin and sometimes the joints.

In people with inverse psoriasis in the belly button or elsewhere, inflammation causes an overproduction of skin cells and damage to the skin barrier. The condition may be triggered by various factors, including:

  • Some medications
  • Alcohol or tobacco consumption
  • Infection
  • Stress
  • Injury or friction in skin folds
  • Higher body weight

Symptoms of Psoriasis in the Belly Button

Unlike plaque psoriasis, which can cause a buildup of dry skin, silvery scales, and thick lesions, inverse psoriasis in the belly button is characterized by a smooth, shiny rash and purple, red, or brown discoloration, depending on skin tone. The rash may be damp because the skin folds where moisture is often trapped.

Inverse psoriasis affects folds of the skin, like the belly button, and can be itchy and painful. The smooth rash looks red, brown, or purple, depending on skin tone, and may be damp.
(CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

A rash associated with psoriasis in the navel tends to be shiny, and the delicate skin can develop cracks called fissures. The symptoms may flare up, then subside after weeks or months.
(CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Inverse psoriasis in the belly button can be itchy and painful. The skin may become sore and develop small fissures (deep cracks). Rashes sometimes flare up and then go into remission (disappear) after weeks or months.

If you have symptoms of psoriasis in the navel, be sure to talk to your dermatologist. Psoriasis in the belly button can resemble another skin disease, such as contact dermatitis, eczema, a bacterial or fungal infection, or intertrigo — a rash that occurs when skin folds rub together and allow yeast or fungus to overgrow.

It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis to determine if you need to treat underlying inflammation caused by immune system dysfunction with psoriasis. Your dermatologist may suggest a biopsy (removal of skin tissue for testing) to help make a diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Navel Psoriasis

Psoriasis in the navel can be immensely uncomfortable and have a negative impact on quality of life. “I’m 51 and have had psoriasis for about 25 years, starting with nails and other extremities. It’s gradually getting harder to control around the ears and navel,” wrote one MyPsoriasisTeam member.

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, it’s important to work with your doctor to find the right treatment plan for psoriasis in the belly button. Inverse psoriasis usually affects areas with thin, sensitive skin, such as the navel. Thinner skin is more likely to have unwanted reactions to treatments that are commonly used for plaque psoriasis on thicker skin. Talk to your doctor about appropriate home skin care for delicate areas in and around the navel.

Topical Treatments

Recommended first-line treatments for inverse psoriasis on the belly button include these anti-inflammatory topical medications:

  • Low- to mid-potency topical corticosteroids for short-term use
  • Calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel)
  • Vitamin D analogs such as calcipotriene (Dovonex) and calcitriol (Vectical)
  • Newer nonsteroidal topical creams such as tapinarof (Vtama) and roflumilast (Zoryve)

If an initial treatment is ineffective, your health care provider might recommend using topical therapies such as coal tar products and antimicrobials or antiseptics. Other topical treatments that may be used to treat psoriasis in the belly button include:

Ask your doctor for medical advice before trying any new over-the-counter creams, lotions, or ointments on the sensitive skin in and around your belly button.

Systemic Treatment and Other Procedures

If you have inverse psoriasis in the navel that is resistant to topical treatment or is severe, your doctor may recommend systemic drugs, such as cyclosporine, methotrexate (Otrexup, Rasuvo, Trexall), or biologics.

Excimer laser treatment and ultraviolet light therapy or phototherapy might be used to treat inverse psoriasis. Your doctor may suggest trying a combination of therapies and changing treatment plans over time.

Natural Treatments

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have discussed using natural remedies to help relieve symptoms of psoriasis in the belly button.

“Just tried coconut oil on my belly button, which flakes endlessly, in it and two inches out from there,” a member shared. “Coconut oil seems to help. After one night, flaking stopped. It’s just red and smooth.”

Another member wrote about using bee butter, a product that includes beeswax and other natural oils: “The belly button was so raw it bled. But bee butter stopped the itching and burning.”

Even natural products that are sometimes used to treat psoriasis may irritate sensitive skin. It’s always a good idea to test a new product on a very small patch of skin to see if you have an adverse reaction. Ask your health care provider if any natural products for psoriasis in the belly button may be appropriate for you.

Will Psoriasis in the Belly Button Go Away?

There is no cure for psoriasis in the belly button or elsewhere, but by working closely with your health care team, you can find treatments that help control symptoms. If you are unhappy with your current plan, ask your doctor about other options that may be a better fit for you.

Find Your Team

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 113,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

How does psoriasis in the belly button affect your life? What treatments have helped you manage your symptoms? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Joan Grossman is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about her here.

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