January 12, 2016

feeding tube careCongratulations! You’re home! You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the task of taking care of your new feeding tube, but we are here to support you through this transition.

In the weeks following your homecoming, it is important to make sure the stoma (the place where the button enters the stomach) heals properly. If you keep the area clean and dry, you have a much better chance of quick, infection free healing. To clean the stoma, you should use warm, soapy water and a soft washcloth.  With the soapy washcloth, using a circular motion, start next to the tube and work your way out away from the tube; be gentle because being too abrasive can cause the skin to become irritated.  Rinse the area well with warm water, especially the skin next to the tube and allow to air dry.  This will reduce the chance of skin irritation.

Helpful hint: there is no need to use medicated ointments around the stoma site. Soap and water are enough.

It normally takes 4-6 weeks for the tube or stoma site to heal completely. While it is healing, do not submerge the area in water; showering or sponge baths are great, but don’t take a bath and leave the stoma under water. After the area is healed, it is okay to take a bath and even go swimming. However, be aware of the water in which you will be swimming. Private swimming pools or oceans are often the cleanest, while lakes and ponds tend to be stagnant. When you are finished swimming, clean the area around the tube in the same way you would every day.

One of the issues that some people encounter when they have a feeding tube placed is granulation tissue at the stoma site. Granulation tissue is red, raised tissue that forms around the tube; it bleeds easily. It is typically caused by stomach fluids leaking around the tube or too much movement of the tube, but don’t worry as there are steps to take to prevent and to treat this.  If you notice granulation tissue forming, notify your physician.

Tips to help stabilize the tube and avoid granulation tissue:

  • Make sure the tube is fitting properly
  • You may need to place some gauze around the tube to get a snug fit
  • If the tube is loose, you can put extra layers of gauze between the base of the button and the skin
  • Another way to prevent the tube from wiggling is by using tape to anchor the tube in place

We are here as your feeding tube resource. Questions? Please reach out to our skilled clinical team at the location nearest you!