What to Know About Umbilical Granulomas

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 05, 2021

‌An umbilical granuloma is a small red bump of tissue that can form in a newborn’s belly button during the first several weeks after they’re born. Many babies will develop a granuloma and have no problems. However, some umbilical granulomas can become infected. In rare cases, adults can also form painful umbilical granulomas. Here’s what you need to know about how they can affect your health.

Causes of Umbilical Granulomas

Umbilical granulomas are a type of scar tissue that forms in the belly button. Most umbilical granulomas form when the belly button is healing after the umbilical cord falls off. They look like small red lumps in your child’s navel. Unlike the rest of their skin, the granuloma will be a little shiny and covered in a clear discharge.

After the umbilical cord is cut, a small stump remains on your baby’s stomach. Typically, the stump will fall off on its own and heal without a problem. However, in rare cases, an umbilical granuloma will form where the stump fell off. Only about 1 in 500 babies will develop an umbilical granuloma.

Rarely, an adult may develop an umbilical granuloma. These lumps are caused by trauma to the bully button. One of the most common causes of an adult umbilical granuloma is navel piercing. While granulomas in babies are not painful, they may be painful for adults.

Impact of Umbilical Granulomas on Health

Granulomas are relatively minor complications. However, they do require treatment because they won’t resolve on their own. Most granulomas will continue to slowly grow until they’re treated. These lumps can easily become infected.

An infected granuloma is a critical health problem. Since granulomas are connected to the umbilical opening, infection can spread quickly. If you believe your child has an infected granuloma, reach out for medical care right away to keep the infection from getting worse.

Treating Umbilical Granulomas

In most cases, treating granulomas is simple. Your child’s pediatrician will probably be able to treat and remove the lump in their office. Granuloma treatments include:

Silver nitrate: Umbilical granulomas in babies don’t have nerve endings, so they can be treated with a small amount of silver nitrate. The doctor will place the silver nitrate on the granuloma, and it will burn off the tissue. Your baby will not feel any pain during the process. Adults may need a topical anesthetic to numb the area before the same treatment.

Liquid nitrogen: If silver nitrate isn’t an option, then liquid nitrogen can also be used. The liquid is very cold and freezes the lump immediately. After it’s frozen, the granuloma tissue dissolves away.

Suture thread ties: In some cases, your doctor may tie off the granuloma with suture thread. This cuts off blood flow to the lump. Over time, it will dry up and shrivel until it disappears.

Salt: Another way to dry out the granuloma is by using salt. Since granulomas are covered in clear mucus, the salt dries them out and causes them to shrivel away. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to apply salt to the granuloma safely.

Surgery: In rare cases, an umbilical granuloma may need to be surgically removed. This is most common for infected granulomas, because surgical removal is the quickest treatment. If your baby’s granuloma is infected, surgery will help stop the spread of infection and help them recover more quickly.

Preventing Umbilical Granuloma Infections

Since granulomas are a type of scar tissue, they’re difficult to prevent. However, if your baby develops a granuloma, you can often prevent infections.

The best way to prevent infections is to protect your baby’s belly button and keep the area clean. Gently wiping the area down with warm soap and water can prevent drainage and bacteria from building up. Your child’s doctor may have other recommendations, as well. Always follow their instructions for taking care of your baby’s navel.

When to Go to the Doctor

All granulomas should be treated by a doctor. However, if a granuloma gets infected, it needs to be treated immediately. Your baby may need antibiotics to prevent the infection from getting worse. Signs your baby needs to go to the doctor right away include:

  • ‌A fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • ‌A rash around the belly button
  • ‌The granuloma is bleeding
  • ‌The belly button is draining a bad-smelling liquid
  • ‌The area around the granuloma is swollen or red
  • ‌Your baby seems to be in pain when you touch their belly button

Show Sources


ADC Fetal & Neonatal Edition: “Umbilical granulomas: a randomised control trial.”

‌Fairview Health Services: “Umbilical Cord Granuloma (Newborn).”

Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatal Care: “Umbilical Granuloma: Modern Understanding of Etiopathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management.”

‌Royal United Hospitals Bath: “Umbilical Granuloma in Babies.”

‌Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Umbilical Cord Symptoms.”

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