When my baby lost his umbilical stump, his belly button did not close properly. It was red and raw, so the doctor put silver nitrate on it. It finally closed up about two days later.
He is four months old now and it seems to be reopening a little bit. Is this something that will heal on its own or do I need to take him back to the doctor to be evaluated?
Red Belly Buttons That Open Up On Babies
What a red & raw belly button really is
When a baby’s belly button is opening up and is red and sore, it can be an umbilical granuloma. In plain English, this means that instead of healing completely when the umbilical cord stump fell off, some tissue remained. It happens in around 1 of 500 newborn babies.
An umbilical granuloma looks like a moist, red, or pink little lump and the area may also be a bit infected.
Nobody really knows why umbilical granulomas develop. They happen more often in premature babies and in cases where the umbilical cord stump healing takes more than two weeks.
The umbilical cord stump does take a little while to dry up and fall off, and the area can look a bit red and raw in the beginning but should heal quickly. You can read about what to expect regarding umbilical cord stumps’ healing process here.
A red and raw belly button could also mean a smaller infection without a granuloma, but since your baby’s belly button appears to be opening up a second time now, an infection is not likely to be the case.
Umbilical granuloma treatment options
The most common treatment for an umbilical granuloma is silver nitrate, which is applied to help the wound dry up. Just like what happened for your son.
If this doesn’t work, or the umbilical granuloma is too serious, the doctor may suggest surgery instead, combined with the application of absorbable hemostatic materials. This latter treatment has shown to be very effective and without healing issues.
There are other treatment options too, such as salt application, antibiotics, and cryotherapy (i.e. cold therapy).
Silver nitrate has sometimes been reported to burn the tissue around the granuloma and also to not always help.
If your son’s umbilical granuloma appears to be coming back, you’d probably want to discuss it with his doctor. Depending on how it develops, a new treatment with silver nitrate or other treatment may be recommended.
For smaller, uninfected granulomas, no treatments at all may be needed, just regular home care.
Unless the granuloma appears to be infected or is oozing, you probably don’t have worry much about it, but if you think it did heal completely before, it is a bit odd that it is coming back now. Most likely it didn’t heal 100% previously and is now showing a bit again.
It is not likely to be a big issue, but have it checked out.
- Umbilical granuloma: When to see a doctor
- Umbilical Granuloma: Modern Understanding of Etiopathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management
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