Umbilical Granuloma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Umbilical Granuloma?

Umbilical Granuloma is perhaps the most common abnormality seen in newborn babies. It looks like a small ball of red tissue on the belly button. Anatomically speaking, it is the umbilical cord that connects the fetus and the placenta during pregnancy. The umbilical cord contains veins and arteries through which the fetus receives nutrition throughout the pregnancy. Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and thus the baby gets separated from the placenta. A small amount of cord is left behind on the belly button which normally falls off in a couple of weeks on its own. Umbilical Granuloma normally occurs after this small cord or what is known as a stump falls off.[2]

In most of the cases Umbilical Granuloma is treated with silver nitrate stick that is applied over the affected area a few times. However, there have been cases of burns as a result of the spilling of the silver nitrate in the surrounding areas. Some children have also been treated with excision successfully. It is quite a simple technique and is extremely safe without any complications. It also cuts down the need for frequent followups to monitor Umbilical Granuloma.[1]

What Causes Umbilical Granuloma?

The exact cause of Umbilical Granuloma is not yet known. They are in no way related to any other medical condition or the care that the baby receives. However, it has been observed that children whose umbilical cord stump falls off after two weeks are more likely to develop Umbilical Granuloma than others.[2]

What are the Symptoms of Umbilical Granuloma?

Some of the symptoms that are sometimes noticed in a baby with Umbilical Granuloma include oozing or discharge. There may also be mucous sticking to the granuloma. The baby may experience some irritation to the skin around the granuloma site. Aside from this, Umbilical Granuloma does not cause any pain or discomfort and is a completely benign condition.[2]

However, in some instances these granulomas tend to get infected. If this happens, then the baby may have fever, pain or discomfort around the infected site. There will also be swelling, warmth, or tenderness around the area. Some pus may also ooze out of the granuloma site due to the infection.[2]

The site will then be checked by the physician and if infection is confirmed then a treatment plan will be formulated for the baby. Additionally, if the parents feel that the granuloma has become infected then they should contact the healthcare provider right away for treatment.[2]

How is Umbilical Granuloma Treated?

To treat Umbilical Granuloma, the physician may adopt a wait and watch approach to observe whether the granuloma resolves by itself. The site will be examined at regular intervals to ensure proper healing is taking place. If there is no sign of improvement, then the physician may suggest the following options.[2]

Silver Nitrate: As stated above, a stick of this solution may be applied over the granuloma site. This will dry out the granuloma and shrink it till it fades away. It may need several application of this solution that will require frequent trips to the clinic.[2]

Liquid Nitrogen: This can be used to freeze the granuloma which then falls off on its own.[2]

Threading: This is a process in which the base of the granuloma is tied off. This cuts off blood supply to the tissue. It then becomes necrotic and falls off.[2]

Surgery: If none of the above treatments work, then the physician resorts to surgery. For this, the physician uses a knife or a scalpel and removes the extra tissue. The procedure does not cause any pain or discomfort. The healing can be assessed during subsequent follow-up or well-child visits.[2]

Other than the treatments mentioned above, there are also certain home treatments that parents can do to deal with Umbilical Granuloma. It is beneficial to change the diapers of the baby regularly to avoid any skin irritation around the granuloma site. It should also be noted that the diaper should be positioned just below the belly button.

This will make the area clean and free of infections. It is also recommended that the baby be given sponge baths as this makes the body dry up quickly and helps the granuloma to dry off and fall.[2]

With regard to prognosis of Umbilical Granuloma, it is a very common and benign condition seen in newborn babies. For majority of the cases, the baby makes a complete recovery without any complications. However, if there are any signs of infection observed by the parents then it is better to consult with a physician for prompt treat of Umbilical Granuloma.[2]


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