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Taking antibiotic for redness around belly button. Noticed brown liquid oozing from it. Underlying cause?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 8985 Questions
Hello. My name is XXXXXXX and I am a full time carer of my mum who is 86. About a month ago she developed this redness around her belly button and there was a XXXXXXX colour liquid oozing from her belly button. I took her to the doctor who did a swab and put her on 2 types of antibiotics plus a cream to put in and around the area. Mum said it was also painful if we pressed on the area. The redness has disappeared but there is now a brownish red colour liquid oozing and it's still a little bit painful. The swab said it was a normal infection and the antibiotics were the correct ones. At night we occassionally hear like a bubbling noise coming from the belly button followed by a nasty smell. After 4 weeks shouldn't this be starting to disappear completely? I would appreciate any advice you can give. Thank you
Posted Mon, 25 Feb 2013 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 2 hours later

Thank you for writing to us.

Your mother seems to have an abscess, which has developed a cavity under the skin, located around her belly button. An abscess will contain pus, blood and dead cells.

All abscesses are initially treated with antibiotics, but depending on the size and response, we decide if just treating with antibiotics would suffice or not. Clearly, in your mother's case the abscess has still not resolved even after 4 weeks of antibiotic therapy. Do not worry as this is seen quite often. In such cases, we need to perform a small procedure called 'Incision and drainage'.

In this procedure, we open the cavity and drain all the pus, blood and dead tissue; clean it and close it (all done in 15-30 minutes). This is followed up with antibiotic therapy and sterile changes of the dressing for a few days (7-10 days). If this procedure is done in a sterile manner with no pus and dead cells left behind, the abscess will completely disappear, without any chance of recurring.

This is a simple procedure and is almost always the best solution. In my opinion, your mother should go ahead with this. Do not worry about her age, other than diabetes (which is accompanied by poor healing), there are no other risk factors.

I hope I have succeeded in contributing. Feel free to write back to me with any further clarifications. Wishing your mother a long healthy life. May god bless you for your efforts.

Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Taking antibiotic for redness around belly button. Noticed brown liquid oozing from it. Underlying cause? 9 hours later
Thank you for getting back to me with the information. The procedure you are suggesting, where is that done? Do I take her back to our own GP or to a hospital? Also if the procedure is not done for a few days is it causing any serious problems other than what she is experiencing already as in the pain, oozing etc? I ask this because I know it will be next week before I can get us an appointment with our doctor. Thanks again for your help. I am very keen to get her well again.
Regards, XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 11 minutes later
Hi, thank you for your response.

This is a minor procedure and can be done in any hospital or clinic having a minor operating theatre, and is usually done by a board certified surgeon. You could consult your GP for directions.
Other than the symptoms she is experiencing there should be no other harm.
I understand, and I am sure your mother will get the best care having you for a daughter.
Wishing your mother a speedy recovery.
Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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