Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Dirtiest Part Of The Body

Do you want to know what is the dirtiest part of the human body? It's not where you think. No, it's not the anus. While all sorts of nastiness are expelled regularly from your bottom, it is quickly and meticulously wiped away with paper designed specifically for the task. So I wouldn't call the anus the most unsanitary body part.

Well then, what about the mouth. Many people would consider the mouth the filthiest area of the body. Sure there are billions of bacteria that are breeding in the oropharynx that will give a horrendous infection if it is used to bite another person. But how bad can it be if people don't mind using their mouths to kiss and lick each other, sometimes with total strangers?

If you have ever had the opportunity to observe a case in the operating room, you would know that the body part that gets the most derogatory comments for being unclean is in fact the navel. The belly button receives all sorts of derision from the nurse who has to wash it before every abdominal procedure. If it is particularly disgusting, people descend to the level of elementary school kids in their mockery of the patient's inability to maintain proper hygiene.

Please wash this
What's so bad about the belly button? I think the main issue is that for being such a prominent and easily accessible body part, people rarely seem to wash it with the same care they use for other areas of the body, like the axilla or groin. Particularly in overweight patients, the navel can hide some pretty gross debris. There is the lint that somehow gets trapped deep inside, never seeing the light of day and allowed to molder in the dark depths for years at a time. Then there are the dead skin, hair, and old sweat that accumulate in that little hole. It eventually turns into a brownish mud that must be washed out to prevent a surgical wound infection after a procedure. That stuff reeks to the high heavens and makes the nurse completely apoplectic. The only time I've ever seen a more extreme reaction was when a nurse had to prep an adult male for a circumcision and she had to pull off a huge chunk of smegma out from under the foreskin. I think she almost lost her lunch on that one.

You say you don't have an unclean belly button because yours is an outy instead of an inny? Well you've got bigger problems because you probably have an umbilical hernia. These will eventually require a surgical repair to prevent incarceration of small bowel and an emergency operation.

So if you don't want to disgust the operating room nurse before your surgery, please remember to wash out your navel the night before you come to the hospital. The OR staff will thank you and you'll be spared the disparaging remarks that comes with neglecting your personal hygiene.


  1. Nice. I have also seen some pretty impressively disgusting offerings simply within skin/fat folds on very overweight patients. There isn't much on the body that can't be made utterly loathsome through serious neglect.

  2. Im going to go wash my belly button with hydrogen peroxide now.

    1. Woah, I'm literally doing that right now. That's what made me google this.

  3. I really do not think the belly button is that dirty. If it really was, then I am pretty sure it would lead to medical issues. I am not an expert, and I am not even a doctor, but I have always been told by doctors, nurses, and even dentist, that the mouth contains bacteria more deadly then the bacteria you find in feces. I have cited 3 websites as a survey, but I think you should be aware that the mouth contains over 700 species of bacteriae. I bit a kid in school once, and my mother never let me hear the end of it about what biting people can do. I wonder if that is how zombie stories came about? Anyway survey says it is the mouth, and I do not see any other part of the body that is this infested.

  4. Steven, I don't know of any studies that compares the bacterial counts of different body orifices. I am well aware that the mouth is frequently considered the official dirtiest part of the body. However, my point is that you probably brush your teeth at least twice a day. Most parts of the body are washed or cleaned at least once a day. However the belly button seems to be severely neglected even though it is in such a prominent and accessible location. I bet you've cleaned your ears more often than you've washed out your navel.

    The reason a dirty belly button doesn't cause more infections is due to the beauty of the skin barrier. No bacteria is likely to penetrate through it. However if it is broken, as in during surgery, then there is a chance the bacteria will get in and cause problems. That is why the nurses scrub it with bactericidal solutions before an operation.

  5. I agree with steven. This is gross. Every part of the body is gross. Everything is not clean, until you clean it. Clean your bodies people!

  6. Here's a bit of trivia: Alfred Hitchcock had his naval removed surgically, when asked why he said "I didn't need it anymore." (funny, true and after reading this I think I'll do the same.)

    Also "oropharynx" is the back of the throat, not the mouth. There was an implication that it was, whether intentional or not but you didn't state it outright. No criticism, just trying to help.

  7. I'm not buying it. The mouth/anus has to be the dirtiest. Why does the homosexual male risk so many oral/anal infections according to the CDC?