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What Is an Umbilical Granuloma?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An umbilical granuloma is a medical term used to describe a portion of skin that remains on the naval of an infant after the umbilical cord falls off. The exact reason that some babies develop an umbilical granuloma while others do not is not clearly understood, and there is no evidence to suggest that there are any hygiene issues involved. Treatment may include the use of special chemicals or a type of surgical thread, depending on the individual situation. Any questions or concerns about an umbilical granuloma or the best treatment option for a particular situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

While there is no known way to prevent an umbilical granuloma from developing, proper hygiene can prevent the likelihood that additional problems, such as infection, will occur. The cord should be carefully cleaned several times per day until it falls off with either water or rubbing alcohol. Some doctors no longer recommend the use of alcohol, although many parents report less problems with the umbilical cord area when using alcohol.

When a baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut, leaving a short stump that dries up and falls off a few days after birth. In some cases, this process does not occur normally, and a small stalk of flesh remains after the rest of the umbilical cord has fallen off. A discharge containing mucus tends to ooze from the granuloma until it is medically treated.

A special type of chemical known as silver nitrate is commonly used to burn off the granuloma. There are no nerves in this stalk of flesh, so there is no pain or discomfort to the baby during this procedure. In some cases, liquid nitrogen may be used instead of silver nitrate. Less commonly, surgical thread can be tied to the umbilical granuloma, causing the tissue to painlessly die and fall off.

Several treatments may be necessary when using silver nitrate or liquid nitrogen to remove the umbilical granuloma. The surgical thread method is not as popular as it once was due to the possibility of complications. If less invasive methods of treatment are not successful, surgical intervention may become necessary in order to remove the umbilical granuloma. The medical staff will discuss the various treatment options with the parents of the affected child and help to decide on the most appropriate treatment for the individual situation.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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