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What Is Umbilical Granuloma in Babies? And How Do You Treat It?

What Is Umbilical Granuloma in Babies? And How Do You Treat It?

There is indeed a special connection between every mother and child. When the baby is still inside the mother’s womb, this begins as a physical connection with the umbilical cord keeping mother and child together. It is through this cord connection that unborn children are able to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. Once the mother gives birth to the child, the doctor cuts the cord, which leaves a small stump. Usually, this umbilical stump falls of on its own. In some cases, there is the possibility of the baby having an umbilical granuloma.

What Is an Umbilical Granuloma?

A small segment remains in the baby’s belly button once the umbilical cord is cut. This section of the cord normally falls off on its own one to three weeks after birth. However, in certain situations, the healing process may be slow and result in a low-grade infection.

An umbilical granuloma refers to a tissue overgrowth that occurs when the belly button (umbilicus) is healing after birth. It typically appears as a soft pink or red lump that leaks small amounts of a clear or yellow fluid. It is most frequent in a baby’s first few weeks of life.

It does not lead to any pain. However, it may release some type of fluid that causes the surrounding skin to appear red and inflamed.

What Causes an Umbilical Granuloma?

There is still no known cause for this condition. But, this low-grade infection of the navel occurs in about 1 out of 500 newborns.

How Can You Tell If Your Baby Has It?

Umbilical infections may not be as common as other conditions, but you should consult your doctor if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Foul-smelling yellowish discharge from the cord (not as dry as normal skin should be)
  • Redness around the cord’s base
  • Baby’s reaction (i.e., crying) when you touch or tap on the particular area

How Do You Treat an Umbilical Granuloma?

Such skin infections can heal on their own without any extensive therapy or treatment. General care for six to eight weeks may be enough.

  • Maintain a clean and dry belly button by using a clean, moist cloth or cotton swab. Make sure to clean an inch around the base of the umbilical stump. Allow the area to air dry after wiping it with a clean cloth.
  • If the belly button should become contaminated with urine or stool, clean it with soap and warm water.
  • Rollback the top of the diaper to expose the belly button to the air.

If the granuloma does not heal after following these steps, you may also opt for different approaches.

Using Salts

Salt has been shown in research to be useful in the treatment of umbilical granulomas. It removes water from the cells, causing the granuloma to shrink.

Following the steps below may help you treat the infection:

  • In order to show the center, press down on the area around the belly button.
  • Wash and dry the affected area with warm water.
  • Apply soft paraffin jelly to the surrounding skin.
  • Apply a pinch of table or cooking salt on the area. Keep in mind: avoid using too much salt. Doing so will damage the natural skin around it.
  • Cover the umbilical area with a gauze dressing swab and hold it there for 10-30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, rinse the area with warm water to ensure that all of the salt has been removed. Then, thoroughly dry the area.

Repeat these steps for three days, twice a day. Afterward, you may find that the granuloma has shrunk, changed color, or has totally dried up.

Using Silver Nitrate

If the granuloma does not go away following the salt treatment, your doctor may prescribe a silver nitrate treatment. The pink tissue of the granuloma should turn gray or black as a result of the application of this chemical. It helps to dry the inflamed area and make it shrink.

With this treatment, the granuloma is tied at its base using surgical thread. Over time, the granuloma eventually falls off by itself.

This type of treatment may take three to six visits to the doctor.

Key Takeaway

The umbilical cord stump should have dried and fallen off by the time your baby is three weeks old. In some cases, this doesn’t occur and an umbilical granuloma may form. Continuous follow-up care with your doctor is necessary in order to treat umbilical granuloma.

Learn more about baby care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Umbilical Granuloma in Babies – Fact Sheet, https://www.ruh.nhs.uk/patients/patients_leaflets/paediatrics/Umbilical_Granuloma_patient_info.pdf, Accessed November 7, 2021

Umbilical Granuloma in Babies – Fact Sheet, https://www.nhsaaa.net/media/7175/20190515umbilicalgranulomababies.pdf, Accessed November 7, 2021

Umbilical Granuloma: Care Instructions, https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=abp5555, Accessed November 7, 2021

Umbilical Cord Care, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Umbilical-Cord-Care.aspx, Accessed November 7, 2021

Umbilical (Bellybutton) Granuloma, https://hhma.org/healthadvisor/pa-umbigran-pep/, Accessed November 7, 2021

Umbilical Granuloma, https://pediaclinic.net/Umbilical-Granuloma, Accessed November 7, 2021

Umbilical Cord Granuloma (Newborns), https://www.fairview.org/patient-education/511182EN, Accessed November 7, 2021

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran