Novel use of lip balm under tracheostomy ties to prevent skin irritation in the pediatric patient

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology






Pediatric tracheostomy; Tracheostomy neck; Tracheostomy wound; Wound care; Wound prevention


© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Objectives: To study the effectiveness of lip balm in reducing skin irritation and preventing pressure induced injury in tracheostomy dependent children. Methods: The skin of tracheostomy patients presenting to a pediatric otolaryngology clinic over a 12 month period from 2018 to 2019 was assessed and categorized as hyperemic blanchable (abnormal pre-pressure injury), hyperemic non-blanchable, partial thickness skin loss, or full thickness skin loss. Caregivers were instructed to apply lip balm to the skin under soft ties three times per day and with tracheostomy tie changes. Patients were followed prospectively by a tracheostomy care nurse. Results: 24 patients enrolled and reported daily adherence with lip balm use. Median age was 7.3 years (interquartile range, IQR, = 1.3–12.4) with 10 females and 14 males. The majority of patients (n = 20) were identified as having hyperemic blanchable skin. 96% (23/24) of caregivers reported a subjective benefit. 79.2% (95% CI: 57.8%–92.9%) of patients with hyperemic skin (n = 24) demonstrated complete resolution with continued application, and was found to be significant: all patients had skin hyperemia before application, while 20.8% (5/24) continued to have hyperemia after application (P <.001). Infants and ventilation dependent patients demonstrated recovery rates of 88.9% and 75% respectively. Median duration of follow-up was 6.3 months (IQR = 3.4–11.3). There were no documented allergic reactions, accidental decannulations, or skin deterioration in the cohort. Conclusions: Lip balm appears to be a low cost, hydrophobic, and friction-reducing agent that is potentially useful in preventing at risk pressure injuries in tracheostomy dependent pediatric patients.

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