Umbilical granuloma: what is it and how is its treatment

Umbilical granuloma is a small abnormality that appears in babies after the umbilical cord falls off. What are the treatment options?

Last update: September 23, 2021

The umbilical cord is a tubular-shaped structure that performs vital functions while the baby is in the womb. This is not necessary after birth, so it comes off on its own after a few days. Nevertheless, Problems such as umbilical granuloma can occur in this process.

During pregnancy, the main function of the umbilical cord is to provide oxygenated blood to the baby from the mother. To do this, it connects the fetus with the placenta, which is the tissue where the necessary blood exchange occurs.

After the birth, the medical staff cuts it and a remnant remains that is adjusted with a special clip that favors its drying and detachment. In order to avoid the appearance of injuries, It is essential to know how to take care of the navel in this whole process.

What is an umbilical granuloma?

Umbilical granuloma is a small skin lesion, composed of granulomatous tissue, that appears in the umbilicus after the umbilical cord has fallen. This is seen as a small pink nodule, with a smooth or irregular surface, which may or may not have a pedicle.

The size of this lesion can vary in each baby, although it is usually not larger than one centimeter. One of its most important characteristics is that it does not generate pain or suppuration of any kind.

In any case, it is one of the umbilical alterations observed more frequently in newborns, as detailed in a study through Cureus. Fortunately, with proper treatment, they usually disappear completely.

Umbilical granuloma is a benign lesion that appears after detachment of the umbilical cord.

Why is it produced?

Often times, the precise cause of the umbilical granuloma cannot be identified. It can appear as a consequence of the irregular and delayed detachment of the cord remnants.. This usually takes between 5 and 15 days after treatment. If it takes more than 15 days, it is common for a granuloma to develop.

The umbilical injury in question can also appear as part of an inflammatory response of the child's body to an infection in the area. In these cases, the infections are not usually detected in time, since they do not generate specific symptoms.

Some mothers tend to feel guilty when they observe an umbilical granuloma in their babies. However, it is important to note that its appearance is not usually related to the care of the newborn. In fact, the development of this lesion is almost impossible to predict.

Why can umbilical granuloma occur in adults?

Although they are more common in children, navel granulomas can also appear in adults. This increase in tissue in the region usually appears in order to heal an injury. The body will produce inflammatory tissue to contain the damage, which will manifest itself with the granuloma.

One of the most frequent causes of the appearance of these nodules is the rejection of a piercing in the region. In turn, they can appear after inadequate healing of an injury.

However, adults should rule out the presence of an incisional or umbilical hernia in the presence of an abnormal nodule in the region. For this, it is convenient to seek specialized medical help to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

How is it diagnosed?

The way doctors identify an umbilical granuloma is through inspection. They will observe the injury in detail to differentiate it from other similar pathologies. They will also ask questions regarding belly button care, umbilical cord detachment, and the presence of other abnormal symptoms.

Specialists do not usually indicate laboratory or imaging tests in these cases. However, some will choose to observe the lesion with a device called a dermatoscope, which will give a more detailed view of the granuloma.

According to a post on Pediatric Dermatology, the dermatoscope allows to observe the formation of new blood vessels in umbilical granulomas. Blood vessels are usually unevenly distributed in the lesion and are located against a milky red background generated by the growth of multiple cells.

Umbilical granuloma treatment

Today there are multiple treatment options to achieve the elimination of these lesions. In most cases, conservative treatment offers favorable results. One of the most used techniques is topical application of a substance called silver nitrate, which will generate tissue regression.

This product must be applied under previous medical prescription, since it is an irritating substance that can burn healthy skin. On the other hand, a study in Patient Preference and Adherence states that the application of kitchen salt also causes regression of the granuloma and reduces the possibility of side effects.

The success rate of the kitchen salt treatment tends to be greater than 90% according to the aforementioned study. Mothers should only place a small amount of salt on the nodule for 20 minutes, 2 times a day. The duration of treatment can vary for each baby, but can be extended for up to 10 days.

Unfortunately, there are times when conservative treatment does not offer satisfactory results. If so, babies will need to undergo a small surgical procedure to remove the injury. The surgery is usually quick and does not cause major discomfort for the child.

Proper cleaning of the navel is essential to avoid complications associated with the presence of granulomas.

What happens if it is not treated?

Some umbilical granulomas usually go away on their own after a certain time, without the need for treatment. Even so, this lesion should always be evaluated by a pediatrician to decide the best treatment. In certain cases, when they are not intervened, they increase in size and produce secretions that give an unpleasant appearance in the baby's navel.

Also, these are weak epithelial tissue, so they can serve as a gateway for multiple infections. Ultimately, if left untreated, the nodule can lead to a permanent malformation of the baby's belly button. In the future, this can lead to self-esteem problems.

Tips for Caring for an Umbilical Granuloma in Babies

Children with an umbilical granuloma should receive special care to prevent infection. In general terms, mothers should keep the baby's navel clean and dry.

One of the main measures that should be taken is to change the baby's diaper regularly, as well as to ensure proper intimate hygiene of the newborn. This simple act will decrease the humidity in the area significantly. It is also recommended to place the diaper below the navel to prevent urine from permeating the area.

The instructions provided by the pediatrician are very important in these cases. TOSome doctors recommend not wetting the navel during treatment, so babies should be bathed with a sponge. In case it gets wet, it is important to dry it completely by giving small touches to the area and without applying too much force.

The newborn's navel should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol at least once a day. This allows germs to be removed from the area without causing moisture.

A benign lesion that needs to be treated

An umbilical granuloma is a benign lesion that usually appears after detachment of the umbilical cord. It does not usually cause major symptoms in the baby, but it is necessary to treat it to avoid the appearance of infections. In this sense, it is always important to consult a specialist doctor.

Fortunately, these nodules respond adequately to conservative treatment in most cases. However, caring for the injury at home is essential to achieve its complete disappearance.