Feeding Tube Care - Feeding Tube Workbook :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Feeding Tube Care

Skin Care Around the Tube

Cleaning the skin

  • Keep the feeding tube site clean and dry. Clean the skin around the feeding tube every day. Clean the skin two times a day if the feeding tube site is red or is draining.
  • Be sure to wash your hands.
  • If the feeding tube has tape and a gauze dressing, remove the tape and dressing before cleaning around your child’s feeding tube.
  • Each time you clean the site, check the skin for any discomfort, redness, swelling, or green or yellow drainage. A small amount of pale (clear or tan) drainage is normal. You may notice some pink-red skin growing around the tube. This is granulation tissue. It is a normal reaction to the tube. If this tissue builds-up or bleeds easily,  the doctor will treat it at your follow-up visit. Call the doctor who takes care of the skin around your child’s tube if the skin is sore, red, swollen or there is a lot of drainage.
  • For the first two weeks after surgery, you should wash your child’s skin daily.  The doctor or nurse will tell you what you should use to wash your child’s skin.
  • After the first two weeks, wash your child’s skin daily with mild soap and water.
  • Clean around the tube and under the external bumper using cotton- tipped swabs such as Q-tips.  If the doctor took out stitches, be sure to turn the external bumper or low profile feeding tube in a full circle to clean all of the skin underneath. 
  • Rinse the skin using clean tap water.  If there is crusted drainage on the skin or the tube, use half strength hydrogen peroxide to help clean the site.
  • Pat the skin dry with a soft cloth or towel.
  • Do not use any creams or powders on the skin, unless directed by the health care team.

Dressings

  • If there is drainage around the tube, your child’s doctor may tell you to put a gauze dressing around the tube. Change the dressing every day or as needed. Clean the skin with each dressing change.
  • To replace the dressing, place a 2x2 split gauze pad around the tube and under the external bumper.  Cut four 3-inch pieces of tape and secure the gauze and the external bumper to the skin.
  • Otherwise, leave the feeding tube site open for better air exposure if the doctor tells you to.

Securing the tube

  • If your child has an external bumper (long tube), the health care team will secure the tube during your child’s hospital stay.  Talk to the doctor who placed the tube about how to secure the tube at home.
  • If your child’s first tube is a low profile feeding tube, you will tape the feeding tube to the skin for the first two weeks. Talk to the doctor who placed the tube about how to do this at home.

View and print the Feeding Tube Workbook

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000