why do we have belly button lint

Have you ever had one of those days when you just want to look your best? Maybe it's time for a big dance at school or perhaps you're going to the beach to try out a new swimsuit. You take a bath or a shower and scrub-a-dub-dub yourself until you're sparkly and shiny. Yet, upon closer, you notice a problem. Uh oh. There appears to be some sort of
stuck in your. Oh no! It's a! (Sorryвpun totally intended! ) What are we talking about? Belly button, of course! And don't pretend like you've never experienced this issue. From time to time, we all have to do a little extra cleaning around the area. If you're WONDERing about, that's what we call those bits of and dust that on and around our clothes. The our clothing is made of, such as cotton and wool, consist of many tiny fibers woven together. Over time, some of these fibers break or come loose. You may have noticed that cloth items you use often, like your favorite shirt or bathroom towels, become thinner over time. You may have also noticed that the in your dryer collects these fibers every time you do laundry. tends to cause these loose fibers to stick to each otherвand to other objects they're close to. Other things that often get wrapped up with these fibers to form pieces of include human and animal hair and skin, plant fibers and. Beyond your clothes, often makes its way to other areas, too. That's where the belly button comes in. It seems to be the perfect spot to collect.


Why is that? Austrian Georg Steinhauser thinks he knows the answer. He spent three years researching over 500 pieces of from his and others' belly buttons. His research revealed a type of body hair that appears to trap pieces of and push them toward the belly button. Two factors about the hair led him to his. First, the hairs he found have tiny scales that act a bit like hooks that latch onto shirt fibers and pieces of. Secondly, the hairs tend to grow in patterns around the belly button, leading to the collection of the in that area. Steinhauser tested his ideas by shaving his belly. He learned that shaving the belly does indeed lead to a -free belly button в but only until the hairs grow back. So if belly button really bothers you, you can always shave your belly! You can also just wash your belly button every time you take a bath or shower. If you have an вoutie" belly button, you'll also probably less than if you have an вinnie" belly button. Poor Georg Steinhauser. A professor of ecology and radiation studies at Leibniz University in Germany, Steinhauser would love to talk about the important environmental research his team is conducting. But back in 2009, he published on the nature of navel fluff, which is the technical term for belly button lint. He s been hounded by curious patients and journalists ever since. It was a fun study, and I enjoyed the public attention for a while, he says.


But now he s over it and ready to move on. Steinhauser s study captured the public s attention because it tapped into a very human curiosity. Turns out, navel lint is exactly what you think it is: a collection of stray clothing fibers. Just as your dryer collects rubbed-off threads and fibers in its lint trap, your belly button can trap small particles that slough off of the clothing you wear. New clothes especially have some extra or loose fibers, and so you may notice extra navel fluff if you ve been wearing a new shirt, says Dr. Rob Danoff, a physician and director of the family medicine practice at Aria-Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. This also explains why your navel lint may change colors. I ve had a patient come in worried because his belly button lint had turned blue, and I told him it was probably from his blue jeans, he says. Danoff treats a lot of kids, who ask about belly button lint more than adults do. He s even collected patients navel fluff and sent it to a lab for analysis. Apart from clothing fibers, the analysis turned up dead skin cells and bacteria. There s a little ecosystem in your navel, but it seems harmless, he says. Research backs him up on that. A from a group of U. S. universities found the bacteria in your belly button are highly diverse but do not seem associated with risks for infection or other health issues.


If your belly button doesn t seem to accumulate much lint, there are reasons for that. Danoff says that outies, or shallow belly buttons, are less likely to catch and hold excess fluff. On the other hand, Steinhauser s study found that men with hairy bellies tend to have a lot more navel lint. That s because abdominal hair both rubs fibers off of clothing and channels them toward the belly button. If you have a deep belly button, which is more common if you re overweight, that can also lead to more navel fluff build-up, Danoff adds. The only issues he s encountered with the stuff stemmed from people trying too hard to dig it out, he says. If you stick a fingernail in there and really scrape to get the fluff out, that can break the skin and could lead to an infection, he explains. Some people also clean their belly buttons with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol, which he says can cause dryness and irritation. You re better off just holding your belly button open and spraying it with shower water. Once the fluff builds up enough, you can pull it out easily when you re in the shower and it gets wet, he says. If you re really worried about your lint or you re headed to the beach and concerned someone may notice it you could also use a wet cotton swab to gently work the lint out. Removing your belly hair could also limit your lint build-up. But the stuff is really harmless, Danoff says.

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