According to Fairview Health Services, an umbilical cord infection occurs sometimes in an infant when bacteria overgrowth causes the umbilical stump to become red, swollen and tender and shows signs of bleeding or pus discharge. An umbilical cord infection typically does not require treatment and only needs to be cleaned often as it heals. Rarely, a doctor may elect to treat the infection with antibiotics.
To care for an umbilical cord infection at home, Fairview Health Services recommends cleaning the area as many as six times daily with a sanitary, moist cloth. The goal is to remove the drainage and dried pus and clean underneath the stump. A cotton swab can also be used to get into smaller areas. It is important to make sure that the infection is kept dry so that bacteria do not have an environment in which to flourish. This means gently blotting the area with a sanitary, dry cloth after each cleaning and rolling the baby's diaper down below the belly button so that it does not cover the umbilical stump, allowing it to air dry.
Parents must maintain clean hands before and after treating a baby's umbilical infection so that the bacteria do not spread. If the baby exhibits any signs of fever, does not want to eat, seems to be overly emotional or develops pustules around the infection, Fairview Health Services urges parents to contact a health practitioner immediately.