Umbilical Cord Care (cont.)
When to Seek Medical Care
Any fever in a newborn is considered a medical emergency. You should contact your physician immediately. There are a couple of common conditions which should lead you to seek medical attention:
- Omphalitis: If you notice
any redness, warmth, swelling, or tenderness in the skin around the belly
button, or a lot of discharge from it (especially if it is foul smelling), you should call your pediatrician and go to the hospital's Emergency Department right away. This could be omphalitis, a potentially life-threatening infection of the umbilical stump and the surrounding area, which must be promptly checked and treated in the hospital.
- Umbilical granuloma: If you notice a persistent, yellow-green drainage from the belly button without any redness, warmth, swelling, or tenderness of the surrounding skin in a baby without a fever, it may represent an umbilical granuloma - a small nodule of firm, pinkish-red tissue. The baby's doctor can treat this condition in the office. It is treated with silver nitrate applied to the umbilical stump with a cotton swab. The silver nitrate acts to cauterize and dry up the tissue at the base of the stump, allowing normal skin to grow over. This may be repeated until the granuloma is healed. After a treatment, a little bit of dark discharge from the area is nothing to worry about. Furthermore, the procedure is not painful to the baby. He or she cries because of being poked in the belly with a stick.
- Persistent bleeding: As mentioned above, a little dried blood at the site is normal. If you notice that that there is persistent and significant bleeding from the umbilical stump, it may be a sign of a clotting problem, and you should see your doctor.
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