Umbilical (Bellybutton) Granuloma

What is an umbilical granuloma?

An umbilical granuloma is a piece of tissue that stays on your baby's bellybutton after the umbilical cord falls off. Rather than getting covered with skin as it heals, there is a bright red stalk of tissue on the bellybutton. It has a grainy surface and sticky mucus. Without treatment, it could ooze and be irritated for several months.

What is the cause?

It is not known why some children develop an umbilical granuloma. It has to do with how the tissue heals as the umbilical cord separates from the baby. It does not seem to be due to improper care of the umbilical cord after the baby is born.

In rare cases, a piece of tissue that looks like an umbilical granuloma is actually connected to the bladder or bowel. Your doctor can tell the difference between this problem and an umbilical granuloma.

What are the symptoms?

Your baby has a bright red stalk of tissue on the bellybutton that has sticky mucus on it.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your child.

How is it treated?

There are different ways to remove a granuloma. Your healthcare provider may:

  • Put a chemical (silver nitrate) on the tissue that removes it by burning it.
  • Use liquid nitrogen (a very cold liquid) to freeze the tissue.
  • Tie the granuloma tight at the base with surgical thread. This will cause the tissue to die and eventually fall off.

Because the granuloma has no nerves in it, these treatments don’t hurt.

How can I take care of my child?

You can help the tissue to heal if you clean the area by wiping around the cord with clean water or alcohol several times every day until the cord falls off.

Call your healthcare provider if:

  • You notice redness on your child’s belly.
  • You notice urine leaking from the bellybutton.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Published by RelayHealth.
© 2012 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.