Umbilical Cord Granuloma (Newborn)

The umbilical cord connects the unborn baby to the mother in the uterus. After birth, the cord is no longer needed. It is clamped and then cut. This leaves a small stump.

In most cases, the umbilical cord stump dries up and falls off the newborn in the first few weeks of life. But sometimes after the stump falls off a granuloma forms. This is a small mass or stalk of pinkish-red tissue. The granuloma may be moist and drain fluid. The area around it may be slightly inflamed or infected.

Granulomas may be treated with silver nitrate. This chemical dries the granuloma. It is not painful to the newborn. In rare cases, the granuloma may need to be removed with a procedure. For instance, liquid nitrogen may be put on the granuloma to freeze the tissue. Or the granuloma may be tied off with thread used for stitches (sutures). Your provider will give you more information if these procedures are needed.

Home care

Medicines

A granuloma itself does not need any prescribed medicines. The healthcare provider may prescribe medicine if the granuloma looks infected. If so, follow the provider’s instructions for giving this medicine to your child.

General care

  • Wash your hands well before and after you clean the area around the granuloma. This will help prevent infection.

  • Care for the area around the granuloma as directed. Use a clean, moist cloth or cotton swab. Be sure to remove all drainage and clean an inch around the base. Pat the area with a clean cloth and let it air-dry. 

  • Roll your child’s diapers down below the belly button (navel) until the granuloma has healed. This helps prevent contamination from urine and stool. If needed, cut a notch in the front of the diapers to make a space for the belly button.

  • Don’t put your baby in bathwater until the granuloma has healed. Instead, bathe your baby with a sponge or damp washcloth.

  • Watch for signs of infection. See “When to call your child's healthcare provider” below.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider as advised. Let the provider know if you have other questions or concerns.

When to get medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Your child has a fever (see “Fever and children” below).

  • Your child’s granuloma does not heal in the timeframe given by the provider.

  • Your child has signs of infection around the granuloma, such as increased redness, swelling, or cloudy or bad-smelling drainage.  

  • There is bleeding from the granuloma.

  • Your child cries or seems to be in pain when you touch the area around the cord and belly button.

  • Your child develops a rash, pimples, or blisters around the navel.

  • Your child seems ill or has any other symptoms that concern you.

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until he or she is at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell him or her which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your young child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child. Follow your provider’s specific instructions.

Fever readings for a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

Fever readings for a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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