Looking after your new tracheostomy can seem daunting at first, but soon enough it will become second nature. Cleaning and caring for your stoma and tracheostomy tube should be done daily to maintain proper hygiene.

Keeping your skin healthy

Before you leave the hospital, your healthcare professionals will show you how to take care of your tracheostomy. There are a few things that are important, such as keeping the tube clean and free of mucus, changing the dressing and neckbands, and keeping the skin around the tracheostomy tube clean and healthy, to help prevent irritation.

It is usually advisable to change your dressing daily where possible and your hospital team will advise you. While changing your dressing, gently clean the skin around the tracheostomy tube with a lightly damp foam swab or gauze square. You may also wish to use a barrier wipe to help protect the skin.

Caring for you tracheostomy tube

Many tracheostomy tubes have an inner tube (or ‘inner cannula’) and an outer tube (or ‘outer cannula’). With these tubes, the outer tube stays in place at all times and the inner tube can be replaced in order to clean it and prevent a build-up of mucus. Some people may also use a suction machine and/or a nebuliser as part of their management. Your hospital team will show you how to look after your tracheostomy tube.

Neckbands are essential for people with a tracheostomy as they help to secure the tube in position. It is usually advisable to change your neckbands daily where possible. Your hospital team will advise you about how and when to change your neckband, or you may have someone to help you do this. It is important to be very careful when changing your neckbands to ensure that the tube stays securely in place throughout.