G/GJ tubes: Hypertonic salt water soaks

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A hypertonic salt water soak is a piece of gauze that has been saturated with extra salty water.

If you are having problems with your child’s stoma​, such as redness or swelling, or if there is already granulation tissue (i.e., new tissue that forms when a wound is healing), applying hypertonic salt water soaks to the area may help.

The extra salt in a hypertonic salt water soak helps to pull moisture away from the stoma, dry the skin, and reduce the swelling and redness. This is the first step to prevent or treat granulation tissue.

Some people refer to these as “saline soaks,” but this is not correct because saline solution is not salty enough. If you see saline in the store for purchase, don’t buy it—it will not have the correct salt concentration.

The best way to obtain a hypertonic salt water soak is to make your own.

Making your own hypertonic salt water soak​

Here’s how to make your own hypertonic water soak:

  1. Mix 2 teaspoons of table salt with 1 cup of warm water in a clean cup or bowl until the salt dissolves.
  2. Cut the shape of a “Y” into a piece of gauze​.
  3. Soak the piece of gauze in the salt water.
  4. Place the wet gauze on the skin around the feeding tube and leave it there until the gauze cools. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not let the gauze dry. If the gauze is too dry, it may pull at the stoma and cause pain when being removed.
  5. Once the gauze is cool, remove it and leave the stoma open to the air to dry. You do not need to wash the salt off the skin afterward.

You can apply soaks up to four times per day when your child is having problems with their stoma.

If there are signs of infection such as redness, swelling or pain at the site, call or visit your doctor for assessment.​

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Holly Norgrove, RN, BScN

9/7/2015
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At SickKids

If you are a SickKids patient, contact the G tube resource nurse at 416-813-7270, extension 4, with any questions or concerns.

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