What if a baby’s belly button opens up again after the umbilical cord stump has healed? How can this happen, is it dangerous, and what should be done about it?

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Mom’s Question:

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 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 the 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 to 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 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 another 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.

Good luck,



Apr 28, 2018 Belly Button Opening Up
by: Anonymous

Hi Elizabeth. I was just changing my 11-month-old son’s diaper when I noticed his belly button was open. It is deep, to begin with so I don’t know how long it has been this way. Did you find any information about your baby’s? I cannot find anything about it and I am concerned.



May 19, 2018 Belly button

by: L. M.

My baby is 8 weeks and the dr. has done silver nitrate twice and his bellybutton is still open after a few days…did anything ever come of your situation with your child? I’m just wondering what the end result was so that possibly I can Help my baby’s close…

Jun 07, 2018 2mo belly button seeping clear fluid …

by: BabyBoyMyJoy

At his 2 months well visit today, my son was referred to a pediatric surgeon after I pointed out to the dr that I’d noticed a reoccurring yellow crust inside his belly button. His belly button is deep and upon peeling back the skin, the inner area is red and “wet” looking. Dr said this is totally abnormal as that is should be 100% healed and dry. She then said there was nothing she could do since he was so old (i.e. could not use silver nitrate as that might risk sealing together folds of skin that should not be) … and so she referred my son to a pediatric surgeon????? Now, he may have to have surgery????? Anyone experience this before??????

Dec 13, 2018 8 week old

by: Anonymous

My 8 wk old daughter’s belly button never healed all the way she is leaking yellow fluid and it hardens it makes her clothes stick to her so I don’t know what to do.

Feb 16, 2019 12-week-old button still not closed
by: Anonymous

Our 12-wk old boy has an open belly button – the same sort of discharge that most of you mention. Our family doctor sent us to a pediatrician a few weeks ago, and he’s been trying the silver nitrate – but after two attempts it has not worked at closing it. He said he has one more attempt and then can’t do any more for it, and will have to send us to a specialist. He didn’t comment further, but the only research we can find is that surgery might be the only other option.

Aug 04, 2019 3week

by: Anonymous

My baby girl is 3 weeks old and has same problem, they have used silver nitrate eight times. Tomorrow she goes for ultrasound, the yellow fluid they think is urine leaking, next week she goes in for surgery to detach the bladder from the area and seal her belly button.

This is an abnormal condition and needs to be treated asap, see your dr.

Sep 09, 2019 4 month old
by: Anonymous

While giving my 4-month-old daughter a bath I noticed a dark spot on her belly button. My mom then looked further and it was a scab. While cleaning it out the scab came off and we pressed to look for oozing. Noting came out. I am worried he belly button had reopened and sealed back up. Is this something I should worry about? How did everyone else’s experience turn out?

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jacqueline R

    Did anyone figured out why this happens?

  2. trying salt

    My son is now ten months old and we have tried silver nitrate four times for his “granuloma” but its more like his umbilical cord never healed. The silver hasn’t worked yet and it still bleeds when he screams or cries. After reading the previous comments I am planning to try that salt trick… I will let you all know how it goes!

  3. Amy

    My baby had a granuloma and after doing some searches online, I decided to treat it at home with salt. If you search, you can find a study where they tested the salt treatment and found it highly effective with no side effects. It took 3 days, the granuloma disappeared, and my baby didn’t cry once!

  4. Jennifer

    My son is 4 months old and we are still dealing with this issue. He has been treated w/silver nitrate 4 times now, the most recent was yesterday so we’re still not sure if this time worked.

    Since after his cord stump fell off his belly button has oozed a clear liquid and becomes crusty every few days. It is frustrating b/c our pediatrician seems to have never dealt with this issue much before. It is a relief to see Sarah’s comments about it taking 3 to 4 treatments to clear up, maybe this last time will work for my son as well=)

  5. Sarah

    My son’s belly button was like that and the doctor called it a granuloma. He put silver nitrate on it which help it dry up and cleared it after 3-4 treatments – 1 treatment was not enough. It could be that so nothing to worry about. I would go back to the doctors.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Griggle carlous

    My 7mnth baby’s navel never healed properly. Just like as you all have mentioned, it all started after 2 month till now his navel has water like sticky discharge. We were referred to surgeon until now, he gave us different kinds of ointment and we did ultrasound too. A week before we tried silver nitrate too but nothing worked. The surgeon says he has no other solution rather than surgery, did anyone have experience such condition, plz help us. Thank you.

    1. Roop

      Hi , am

      We are going through same . He is 8 weeks old . Had two ultrasound at sick kids . But no attachment to bladder. He is on antibiotics now becoz they think it could be infected . We finish antibiotics course tomorrow . Still has some yellow fluid leaking.

      Wish everyone lil babies speedy recovery !!

    2. Viji

      Hi.. my son also experiences the same now. How is your kid now. What you did for his belly button to heal. TIA..