Umbilical Granuloma: Symptoms, Care and Treatments

Umbilical granuloma refers to the stalk of skin that remains even after the umbilical cord is detached. You can get rid of it with effective treatment options.

Under normal circumstances, the belly button heals when the cord has already fallen off, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, the area is not covered with skin and an umbilical granuloma forms instead, which is actually a scar tissue. This small red mass develops in the belly button after the umbilical cord falls off. A large majority of people knows nothing about this problem or other issues such as umbilical abscess, and they have no idea of how to deal with this condition. Keep reading to discover more about it and the types of treatment options available today.

What Is Umbilical Granuloma?

The condition refers to a portion of skin that doesn't go away even after the detachment of umbilical cord. The cord has to be cut after a baby is born, but this leaves a short stump on the naval of an infant, which dries up within a few days of birth. Sometimes, the portion of skin doesn't dry up even when the rest of the umbilical cord is no longer attached.


The most common symptom is a red or pink stalk of tissue in the belly button area of your baby. You may notice some bleeding as well, but this normally doesn't hurt. You may also notice some redness right at the rim of the belly button of your baby.


The exact cause is still unclear, but the experts believe that this happens due to a delay in the time the umbilical cord takes to fall off completely. In some cases, it is the outcome of an infection in the belly button area.

What to Do About Umbilical Granuloma

The first thing your GP or midwife will notice is if any infection is present or not. In case of no infection, your midwife may suggest salt treatment, which involves applying a pinch of regular cooking salt onto the granuloma and covering it with a gauze dressing "swab". They will remove the gauze dressing after half an hour, clean the site and apply another dressing. The procedure will continue for a couple of days after which you will start noticing the granuloma reducing in size. It's better to perform this procedure when your baby is asleep.

You can try some other treatment options as well. For instance:

  • You can put silver nitrate on the granuloma
  • You can tie it at the base using a surgical threat
  • You can use liquid nitrogen to freeze the granuloma

It is worth mentioning that the granuloma has no nerves in it, so the treatment won't hurt your baby. Different people have noticed different results using different methods. Silver nitrate application is usually the safest choice, and the surgical threat method is not that popular considering the complications that may arise because of it. You should also practice care while applying silver nitrate because it can cause small burns.

If a granuloma has a narrow base, you may consider having it excised in the office setting. This is also true in case of a large granuloma, which is the outcome of a sinus or umbilical fistula.

Home Care

You can take home care measures to resolve the issue on your own. It is however important to call your doctor if the condition persists.

  • Be sure to clean the affected area at least once every day.
  • Make a mixture of warm water and mild soap and soak a cotton swab in it. Now, squeeze it tightly to get the excess water out and use it clean the area around the navel of your child.
  • Use a soft towel or cloth to pat the area dry.
  • Make sure to fold your baby's diaper below their navel while the granuloma is still healing. You can also make a hole in the diaper to keep the navel exposed.
  • Be very careful when giving your baby a bath. Make sure not to wet the affected area until it heals completely.

When to Call Your Doctor

You should go see your doctor if you notice a lump forming between your baby's genitals and belly button or you see a cloudy yellow fluid draining from the belly button area. You should seek immediate medical help if:

  • Your baby is younger than 3 months and has a rectal temperature of 38°C or higher
  • Your baby is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 38.9°C or higher
  • You notice abdominal redness
  • You see foul-smelling drainage or pus coming out from your child's belly button
  • Your baby throws up repeatedly
  • You feel your baby's belly hard to the touch
  • You see a large, red bulge developing near your child's belly button

Are There Umbilical Granuloma in Adults?

It is important to point out that the condition usually only happens in babies, but sometimes, an adult may also experience navel discomfort, which could be due to several reasons.

If you notice navel discomfort with swelling, it could be due to granuloma or even umbilical hernia. The swelling will increase or decrease with coughing if it is hernia. You may experience pain as well due to the obstruction. Only a surgeon can help you in this case because a surgical procedure is the only choice here.

If it is granuloma, you might notice pus or blood coming out of it. It is most probably a granuloma if you experience pain and notice redness as well. If that's the case, clean the affected area with Savlon and cover it with betadene antiseptic. It is important to take antibiotics if you notice pus coming out of it. You need to contact your doctor to find the exact cause and get medicines to avoid umbilical abscess and other complications.

One Example

Situation: After getting my belly button pierced, I noticed a bump appear after a few days. I conducted some research and discovered it could be a granuloma. It's tender and definitely red in color. Is there a way to get rid of this "bump"?

Explanation: Granuloma is a common complication associated with piercing. It could be an infection and have pus or it may be an allergic reaction to the metal used while piercing. Keep the area clean, use local antibiotic ointments, and take oral antibiotics to resolve the issue. If the condition persists, you may have to go for electro ablation. Your surgeon will help determine if you're a good candidate for electro ablation or not. 



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