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 applied to 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.
A granuloma itself does not require 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.
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 allow it to 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 seek medical advice” below).
Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider as advised. Let the provider know if you have other questions or concerns.
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 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.
Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.
For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.
Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.
Infant under 3 months old:
Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.
Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider
Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.