Bacterial Infection of the umbilical cord area

Bacterial Infection of the Umbilical Cord Area

Babies are prone to bacterial infections of the umbilical cord area. The umbilical cord is a baby’s connection to their mother that delivers nutrition and oxygen during pregnancy. After birth, the umbilical cord is typically cut and then begins drying up and falling off, taking a few weeks. If the umbilical cord isn’t carefully attended to, it can put a baby at risk for bacterial infections.

Umbilical cord care is extremely important, as infections can cause serious, even life-threatening complications. Bacterial infections of the umbilical area occur when bacteria enter through the umbilical cord stalk, most often from not enough air exposure or unclean conditions. If proper care tips aren't followed, the infection can spread to the baby’s bloodstream or other areas of the body, seriously affecting their health.

Symptoms of a Bacterial Infection

  • Redness around the umbilical cord or umbilical area
  • Odors
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Increasing temperature
  • Crusty discharge from the umbilical cord

If you suspect your baby has a bacterial infection in the umbilical cord area, take them to the doctor immediately. A pediatrician will take a sample of skin or fluids in the area to see what type of infection is present, and prescribed antibiotics to treat it. Depending on the severity of the infection, the doctor may explain that hospitalization is necessary.

Umbilical Cord Care Tips

  • Allow air to expose the umbilical cord. Avoid using anything like tape, plastics wraps, and spirits.
  • Clean the area around the umbilical cord with unscented soap and lukewarm water with each bath.
  • Once the cord and area have dried, apply baby oil, Vaseline, or an antibiotic ointment to protect the area.
  • Keep the diaper below the umbilical cord (avoid tucking it in) so it’s not in contact with the area.
  • Change your baby’s diaper regularly, and make sure to dry the space around the umbilical cord each time.
  • Check the umbilical cord every day for any signs of infection.

Be sure to identify signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection in the umbilical cord area and seek medical attention if any of these symptoms are present. Taking the necessary precautions to keep the umbilical cord area clean and dry will help to prevent any life-threatening infections.