What Is Neonatal Omphalitis (Omphalitis of Newborn)?

What Is Neonatal Omphalitis Omphalitis of Newborn

What Are the Signs of Neonatal Omphalitis? What Does Cause This Health Issue in Neonates?

Omphalitis of newborn Neonatal Omphalitis is a medical term used to describe the inflammation of the umbilical cord stump. Bacterial infection is considered responsible for this condition.

Doctors always cut the umbilical cord after the child’s birth. A small portion of the umbilical cord remains, which can get infected. It gets separated from the child’s skin within 3-45 days. It is normal to have puss-like material around the stump’s base.

Some children can experience inflammation and that can be harmful to the child’s health. This post is going to provide detailed information on neonatal omphalitis and its cure. So, continue reading to reveal more details.

What Are the Causes of Neonatal Omphalitis?

The unborn child receives his regular food through the umbilical cord. The child discharges all the waste in the womb. Once the child is born, the healthcare provider legate cuts and ligates the umbilical cord. Its stump does not dry overnight.

The umbilical cord stump can take some time to dry out. It’s the time when the risks of neonatal omphalitis are quite high. A few things can contribute to Omphalitis of the newborn:

Not disinfecting umbilical cord

The chances of disinfection increase quite rapidly if the hospital staff does not disinfect the umbilical cord. Disinfection is quite important before and after cutting the umbilical cord. This procedure should be strictly followed to take proper care of the child. Professionals know it and therefore they follow a perfect procedure after the child’s delivery.

Bacterial infection

Bacterial infection is the main cause of neonatal omphalitis. Bacteria, such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and streptococcus are mainly responsible for the infection. One or a combination of these bacteria can infect the umbilical cord stump. Some anaerobic bacteria can also cause this health issue. Therefore, regular disinfection is quite important.

What Are the Symptoms of Neonatal Omphalitis?

The symptoms are visible usually within the first two weeks of delivery. You can spot the signs of infection around the stump. You should notice the following signs to cure neonatal omphalitis in time:

Visible signs

There will be warmth, redness, pain, and swelling. The child will cry due to pain, even after breastfeeding. Mothers should understand that something is troubling the child. They should contact the healthcare provider quickly to diagnose the problem.


Can you spot pus around the umbilical stump? Contact the doctor immediately if there is excess pus. It is normal to have a tiny amount of pus and it will dry out within a few days. It’s a sign of infection if pus continues to accumulate around the navel.


Neonates with omphalitis often have a fever. It’s a sign of infection and the doctor should look for the signs to treat it quickly.


It is a medical term used to describe fast heart rate. Newborn babies with omphalitis often have faster heart rate than healthy children.


Newborn babies can have low blood pressure due to umbilical stump infection. It’s not a sign to avoid, especially if the baby is too young.

Other symptoms, such as jaundice, poor feeding, and somnolence, also indicate that the baby has omphalitis. Mortality rates are quite high, even in case of severe infection. However, proper treatment can prevent the child from pain and inflammation.

How to Treat Neonatal Omphalitis?

The following treatment should be followed to cure omphalitis:

Cleaning umbilical stump

Cleaning the umbilical stump is quite necessary to prevent further infection. You can use saline, 75% alcohol, neocerin solution, 3% boric acid, and other cleaning solutions. Use a cotton swab to clean the target area. Dip it into the chosen cleaning solution and then gently wipe the area around the stump.

You have to clean the umbilical area in a way that purulent secretions come out. The stump is still healing and therefore you have to disinfect it time and again. Clean it at least 2 times a day to kill the accumulated bacteria and prevent infection.

Apply the medicine

Disinfection is important to keep bacteria away. Now, you have to use medication to treat the problem. Apply 40% chloramphenicol zinc oxide or zinc oxide oil along with umbilical cord powder, or any other ointment the healthcare provider advises.

The doctor will most probably suggest using the ointment once or twice a day. The doctor may also prescribe syrup to heal the wound quickly. It will quickly dry out the umbilical cord stump and prevent further infection. Parents should not try any home remedy without consulting with the doctor. It can worsen the child’s health if the home remedy does not suit the child!

Medicines to apply externally

The doctor will prescribe some medicines to heal the infected stump quickly. These medicines will also cure the symptoms, such as redness and swelling. Apply the medicines gently to ensure you won’t hurt the child. Nurses will do this job in most cases if the child is still in the hospital to avoid further complications.

Medicines prescribed for external application are quite helpful in reducing inflammation and pain. The child feels relaxed and discomfort levels go down quickly. Therefore, ointments and other remedies are important to speed up the cure.

Draining the pus

Excess pus can build up when the child is suffering from omphalitis. It is important to drain that puss to keep the child safe. The healthcare provider will incise and drain the puss daily. The nurse will regularly change the dressing to disinfect the affected region.

A new drainage strip will be used daily to keep the wound clean. It is tough for parents to do such delicate wound cleaning work. Therefore, the child should be admitted to the hospital so that professionals can take care of the child.

What Type of Drugs Doctors Use to Cure Omphalitis?

Hence bacterial infection causes neonatal omphalitis, doctors use antibiotic drugs to cure it faster. Erythromycin and penicillin are effective against bacteria causing umbilical stump infection. This type of drugs has been proven effective against many kinds of infections and omphalitis is no different.

Use of intravenous drips

Newborn babies aren’t good at consuming the medication. They cannot absorb intramuscular or oral antibiotics as effectively as adults do. Therefore, doctors often use intravenous drip to feed drugs to speed up the healing process.

It can hurt or scare some parents when they see their child is undergoing such treatment. It is a short-term situation and the child will be fine pretty soon. Parents should cooperate with the doctor and let him do his job to keep the child safe.

Let the doctor follow a standard omphalitis treatment procedure to improve your child’s health. The span of providing intravenous antibiotics can be longer if the baby does not show quick improvement.  

Supportive treatments

The doctor can also try other supportive treatments, such as blood transfusion, intravenous hypernutrition, and plasma transfusion. These treatments are offered based on the child’s current health condition. Most children recover quickly when they receive the regular dose of antibiotics. The treatment can go longer in some rare conditions and the doctor can switch to other methods of treating omphalitis.

How to Take Care of the Child Suffering from Neonatal Omphalitis?

Follow the below-given tips to take proper care of the child in neonatal omphalitis:

Disinfect umbilical stump daily

Parents should learn how to disinfect the umbilical stump if the child is at home. Use the cleaning solution suggested by the doctor with a cotton swab. Clean the stump gently to prevent pain and discomfort.

Maintain cleanliness around the baby

Parents should clean the child immediately if he urinates or defecates. Change the diaper to prevent bacterial infection. You can also use diapers made of highly absorbent material to lock moisture and keep the child safe.

Do not let the umbilical stump get wet!

Yes, you can give a bath to a newborn child. Make sure his umbilical stump does not get wet. Carefully protect the infected area to keep it clean. Bacteria from water can cause more infection. That’s why it is important to keep it dry and clean.  

Monitor purulent secretions

Purulent secretion should stop as soon as possible to treat the problem. Monitor the wound daily and clean the pus regularly to prevent more pus build up in the infected region.

Is It Possible to Prevent Neonatal Omphalitis?

Not all neonates suffer from neonatal omphalitis. The umbilical stump dries and cures automatically. Omphalitis of the newborn is a rare condition. Its risks are high when the family decides to have home delivery.

Hospitals have highly-trained doctors and nurses to handle all the complications. They are skilled professionals with immense experience. Therefore, you should choose a good hospital to bring your child into this world and keep him healthy.


Neonatal Omphalitis is not a life-threatening health condition. It is a discomforting condition for the child and skilled doctors know how to deal with it. Parents must follow the doctor’s advice to cure the problem quickly. It won’t hurt the child for a long time if the proper treatment provided in time.

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