What is umbilical granuloma?
Umbilical granuloma refers to a small overgrowth of tissue that forms in the umbilicus or the belly button of the baby during the first few weeks after the umbilical cord is cut. An umbilical granuloma looks like a ball of moist, red tissue or a little red lump on the belly button and may be covered in yellow or clear discharge. It is one of the most common umbilical abnormalities found in new-borns.
While the umbilical granuloma in itself may not bother the baby or be a cause of concern, it can get infected and lead to other symptoms like skin irritation around the belly button and fever.
While umbilical granuloma mostly affects babies, in rare cases, it is possible for an adult to develop it. This formation takes place most commonly after navel piercings and can be painful. During the time of healing of the piercing, granulation tissue, rich in small blood vessels, forms around the area. Excess production of granulation tissue can lead to the formation of granuloma. The emergence of pus from the lump is a sign of infection and requires treatment. In cases, where the granuloma does not go away with granuloma treatments, a person may have to remove the piercing for complete healing.
Umbilical granuloma symptoms
An umbilical granuloma looks like a ball of moist, red tissue or a little red lump on the navel. Other umbilical granuloma symptoms include:
- Presence of sticky mucus
- Mild irritation around the belly button
Umbilical granuloma can get infected in some cases. Symptoms of an infection in the granuloma may include:
- Increased swelling
- Warmth or redness in the navel area
- Pain or discomfort when the navel or surrounding tissues are touched
- Pus emerging from the granuloma
- Red streaks leading to the navel
- A fever
Who is at risk?
Risk factors for infection of umbilical granuloma include:
- Moisture in the diaper area
- Moisture around the navel
- Compromised cleanliness around the navel
- Wet skin
Umbilical granuloma causes
During pregnancy, the baby is connected to the placenta through the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord contains arteries and veins and carries oxygen, nutrients, and waste between the baby and the mother.
Usually, in the process of cutting the baby’s umbilical cord and separating the baby from the placenta, a small “stump” remains in the belly button. This stump generally dries up and falls off in a few days without any complications.
However, in some cases, when this tump falls off, an umbilical granuloma is formed. The reason for this formation is uncertain. However, the granuloma is more likely to develop in cases where the umbilical cord takes more than 2 weeks to fall off.
Umbilical granuloma causes in adults include navel piercing.
How is umbilical granuloma diagnosed?
For diagnosis, an umbilical granuloma doctor will examine the new-born baby’s navel during every check-up, especially once the umbilical cord has dried up and fallen off.
A parent or a caregiver of the new-born baby should report any visible symptoms to the doctor at these visits or should contact the doctor right away in case of an infection.
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How is umbilical granuloma treated?
Umbilical granuloma treatment can be done with the use of certain chemicals. In most cases, the treatment is done with a tiny amount of silver nitrate which burns off the tissue. Since the lump does not have any nerve endings, there is no pain involved in the procedure.
In cases, where the silver nitrate does not work or is not preferred, the doctor may suggest other options like:
- Liquid Nitrogen: This will make the tissue freeze up and fall off
- Surgical thread: Surgical thread may be used by the doctor to tie the base of the tissue restricting the supply of blood to the tissue. This will eventually result in falling off of the granuloma.
- Surgical removal: In rare cases, the doctor may perform surgery to remove the tissue.
How can umbilical granuloma be prevented?
While the growth of umbilical granuloma cannot be prevented, umbilical granuloma care can help in preventing the infection. This can be done by:
- Changing diapers frequently
- Keeping the diaper area clean and free of moisture
- Positioning the diaper to sit below the navel
- Giving the baby sponge baths to keep the skin dry.