Umbilical Sepsis (Omphalitis): What You Need to Know

Umbilical sepsis, also known as omphalitis, is a serious bacterial infection of the umbilicus (navel). The baby develops a red, swollen, and warm umbilical cord.

If your baby develops a red, swollen, and warm umbilical cord, it may be a sign of umbilical sepsis (omphalitis). This is a serious infection that can cause problems for your child if not treated. In this blog post, we will discuss the symptoms of umbilical sepsis, how it is diagnosed and treated, and what you can do to help prevent it.

What is Umbilical sepsis (omphalitis)?

Umbilical sepsis is a serious bacterial infection of the umbilicus (navel). It most often occurs in newborns but can also occur in older infants and children. This condition is also known as omphalitis.

Umbilical sepsis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If not treated promptly, it can lead to serious complications, including death.

What causes omphalitis?

Omphalitis is most often caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli. These bacteria can enter the umbilicus through the navel or from contaminated clothing, towels, or bedding.

Omphalitis can also be caused by viruses, fungi, or parasites.

What are the symptoms of umbilical sepsis?

The most common symptom of umbilical sepsis is fever. Other symptoms may include:

  • Redness, warmth, or swelling around the umbilicus
  • Pain or tenderness around the umbilicus
  • A foul-smelling discharge from the umbilicus
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Poor feeding
  • Sleepiness or lethargy
  • Delay in falling off the cord

How is omphalitis diagnosed?

Omphalitis is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms. Your child’s doctor may also order blood tests or a culture of the discharge from the umbilicus. A chest x-ray may also be ordered to rule out pneumonia.

How is omphalitis treated?

Omphalitis is treated with antibiotics. Your child will likely be hospitalized and receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics. The wound is dressed with a sterile bandage.

Your child will be closely monitored for signs of improvement or worsening of the infection. Surgery may also be necessary to drain any abscesses.

What are the complications of omphalitis?

The most common complication of omphalitis is septicemia, which is a bloodstream infection. Omphalitis can also lead to meningitis, pneumonia, or death.

How is omphalitis prevented?

Omphalitis can be prevented by good hygiene. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after changing diapers or handling soiled clothing. Keep the umbilicus clean and dry. If your child has a wet or dirty diaper, be sure to change it promptly.

You should also consult your child’s doctor if you notice any redness, swelling, or discharge from the umbilicus.

Umbilical sepsis is a serious infection that can be deadly if not treated promptly. Good hygiene and care of the umbilical cord are the best ways to prevent this condition.

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