If your child has been prescribed home oxygen, sometimes keeping it on their face can be the hardest part. A nasal cannula is used to give your child oxygen at home. It is a small tube with prongs that goes under the nose and around the head. The two prongs on the tubing go into the nostrils.
Can I use a facemask to deliver my child’s home oxygen because they don’t like the cannula? NO!
Unfortunately, it is unsafe to use a face mask with less than 6 liters of oxygen per minute without causing re-breathing of CO2.
So how do I keep the nasal cannula on my child?
- Tape the tubing securely to your child’s face. The tubing can be placed so it goes under or over the ears. You may use the kind of tape or other product that is supplied by your homecare company that works best for your child as long as it does not irritate the skin.
- Make sure the cannula is not too tight. It must not pinch at the hairline or leave marks on your child’s face.
- If the cannula is dirty with mucus, it will need to be changed or cleaned.
- The nasal cannula prongs are slightly curved. Make certain that the prong tips curve DOWN into the nose following the natural curve of the nasal passage. Prongs that are placed wrong can irritate and damage the nasal tissue.
- Oxygen should be humidified (have moisture added). This keeps the lining of your child’s nose moist so it does not crack and become sore.
- Take the cannula off during your child’s bath time long enough to wash his face. Then re-tape it in place for the rest of bath time. If your child does not tolerate brief periods without oxygen, leave the oxygen in place.
- Change the tape and location of the tape every day. If your child’s skin is red, you may need to use a different type of tape or ask your homecare company about other products that may be available.
- Some children respond better to brightly colored Band-Aids for tape.
- The nasal cannula can irritate your child’s nose. Watch for redness where the prongs might rub his skin. Wash the skin with water but do not use soap. Soap can make the skin dry.
- Oil-based lotions are possible fire hazards. They should not be used on your child’s face. A water-based lotion such as Lubriderm® or Lotrimin® lotion should be used. Read labels carefully because most lotions (including lip balms like Vaseline® and Chapstick®) are oil or petroleum-based.
- Hand-washing is the single best way to prevent infections.
- Avoid places with large crowds (such as church, the grocery store or shopping malls). Protect your child from exposure to infections as much as possible.
- Ask visitors not to touch or awaken your child if he or she is sleeping.
- Ask people not to visit when they or members of their family are sick.
- No one should smoke in the same house or car with your child. Breathing in smoke can cause congestion, respiratory distress, ear infections and possibly pneumonia.
- Regular well child checkups with your pediatrician and keeping up to date on immunizations will help to protect your child.