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    • #15279

      As the winter months descend upon us here in Canada, so do the added complications of using supplemental oxygen in cold weather. For patients living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), winter can make living with this chronic lung disease even more challenging. For some, the heat and humidity of the summer months are more difficult but for many patients I know; dealing with the bitter wind and cold of winter can wreck havoc on their lungs and ability to breathe.

      Issues like: keeping your oxygen cannula warm enough to prevent freezing, covering your face to avoid coughing due to the windchill, and keeping warm despite being chronically under-oxygenated are all too familiar for those of us living with IPF. Unfortunately dry, cracked and irritated skin is another unpleasant issue I’ve had to deal with since my IPF diagnosis. As of late, I am fearful that my oxygen cannula is actually contributing to the dryness and irritation I am feeling on my face in particular.

      For those of you on oxygen regularly: do you get irritation on your skin, under the spots where your cannula sits?

      If so, do you have any remedies or suggestions to help reduce the skin irritation? Sometimes I will remove my oxygen cannula for short periods at a time, especially when I am not doing any type of exertion and can just rest. This does help but it isn’t for long enough to reduce the irritation caused on my cheeks specifically. I also just started using a 100% organic facewash and hydrating skin lotion morning and night as this is definitely something that is worse for me in the cold/winter months. Can you relate? 


    • #15332
      Chuck Pefley

      Hi Charlene,

      I was diagnosed with IPF in July 2016 and managed pretty well until late August 2018 when I experienced an acute exacerbation due in large part to fires in the Pacific NW. (I live in Seattle, by the way.) In terms of oxygen use in cold weather I have no experience … so far. However, I do have a couple of tips that may be of help to you and others.

      First is the mater of hoses that kink. I’ve found that warming my oven to 150 or so degrees (F) and placing the stiff and kinked hose in the warm oven for no more that 10 minutes allows the kinks to be removed by stretching the hose while warm. This also leaves the hose much softer and pliable. I’ve repeated this procedure more that once with the same cannula hose although I tend to move to a new cannula every two weeks.

      The fact that oxygen is flammable means I can’t lubricate my nostrils with petroleum products like Vaseline.  As an alternative I’ve found and use Ayr saline nasal gel to minimize cannula irritation in my nose. Ayr gel is water based and therefore non-flammable.

      Another tip is to use soft cannulas. These make a significant difference in the feel on my face and also seem to simply be more comfortable to wear than the less flexible rigid type hose.

      Chuck in Seattle, WA USA

    • #15346

      Hi Chuck,

      Thank you so much for getting in touch with us about this, I so appreciate hearing your feedback. Sounds like we’re on a similar “path” when it comes to our IPF diagnosis and unfortunate exacerbation. I was diagnosed in April 2016 and managed pretty well also until May 2017 when I had an acute exacerbation that set me back and started to require me to be on oxygen pretty much 24/7. So sorry to hear you also experienced something similar after the fires in the Pacific NW. I can’t stop thinking about the people in California right now and praying that their lung diseases aren’t triggered by all the fires there…

      Wow, I had no idea that you could do this with the cannulas. So interesting! They don’t melt in the oven or start to smell when you put them back on your nose? I do find my get kinked or solid really easily in the cold which I don’t like. I think I may try this, to see if I can manage doing it without melting the cannula… this is what I would worry about!

      Thanks again for the link to the gel to lubricate your nose. I’ll look into this as my nose is really dry now that the frigid temperatures have landed here in Canada. I also will look into soft cannulas, I used to order these but for some reason I stopped doing this. I really should start doing it again, I simply don’t like the irritation the cannula causes on my cheeks. Makes them red and kind of looks like a breakout on my skin when I wear it consistently.

      Thanks for all your tips, I really appreciate it!

    • #15348
      Chuck Pefley

      Hi Charlene,

      Just a cautionary note when warming your cannula hose in the oven … temperature and time in oven are important. Our oven has a “keep warm” setting that is limited to 170ºf . I’ll run it up to that temperature and then simply turn off the oven before placing the hose in the oven. I also put the hose on a cookie sheet before putting into the oven for no more than 10 minutes. And FYI, I’ve used this technique on both a 25 and 50 foot extension hose from my concentrator.


    • #15375

      Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for getting back to me on this and providing that note of caution, I appreciate it. I never would have thought to do this, so it’s very interesting that it has worked so well for you. I certainly will keep it in mind if needed in future for sure! I hope others see this topic too, as I know the discussion of “stiff” or cold oxygen cannulas for those of us living in cold climates has been discussed before. This could be really helpful for those people too! Do you find there is any strong scents associated with the cannula afterwards at all? I would think heated plastic might smell but maybe not?

      Thanks again, I hope you’re having a nice week!

    • #15382
      Chuck Pefley

      Hi again, Charlene,

      I’ve not noticed any odor related to the heating of the plastic tubing.

      I should mention as a disclaimer that plastic tubing is going to become stiff when it gets cold. That’s simply the nature of the beast. However, that said, I’ve found that the continuous oxygen flow via my concentrator tends to make the tubing stiffer over time; approximately 2 weeks for me, anyway.

      I know you’re in Canada, but I’ll wish you a Happy Thanksgiving anyway ?


    • #15391

      Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for your fast replies, it’s been so nice corresponding with you over the last few days!

      I’m glad you haven’t noticed any type of odor associated with heating up your oxygen cannula, that is a positive for me if I am going to try this as I am very sensitive to scent these days. Also good to know about your experience with the cannula stiffening more on a continuous flow setting. I usually have mine on this too, but I can manage just on a pulse flow option so maybe this is something I should try. Typically I try to change my cannula every 10-14 days well, and I actually just ordered one of the soft cannulas to see if it makes a difference in terms of how stiff it gets in the cold. Canada sure is chilly right now, last night it was -31 here with the windchill!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too! I love our Canadian thanksgiving but I also get so excited for the Americans to celebrate their thanksgiving as well; just so much to be thankful for!

      Enjoy your long weekend 🙂

    • #18507
      Daryl Long

      Hello Charlene, et al,

      Once I left the “Denial” stage,  and I realized that I’d be using oxygen a LOT if I wanted to enjoy life or just get things done, I quickly noticed that there were issues to solve and I’d have to “Turn Pro” to improve things. I first noticed the cannula problem when I saw what I feared calluses developing in my nostrils. Also, the rigid tubing would pop off my ears. After exploring the Amazon, I found these cannulas. (Adult Ultra Soft Oxygen Cannula, green tubing – 7 Ft (Westmed #0556) pk 5). They treat my nostrils better, and the compliant tubing hangs over my ears more securely. I could only find 7’ versions, which is awkward for my POC, and it puts the connector on the floor, where it sometimes catches on furniture. Next, I looked at the tubing. The tubing with the concentrator was 50’ long and fairly rigid. It was constantly twisting and, worse, the loops would catch on furniture and wall corners. I hadn’t learned to walk cautiously, yet. As the tubing caught on furniture, I was constantly being snapped back by the nostrils. It’s very hard to look “Pro” when that happens. Also, getting the twists out of a 50’ tube was tedious and frustrating. I found kink-resistant tubing on Amazon (Replacement_Oxygen Tubing_Kink Resistant Oxygen Supply Tubing – 25′ Blue, Pack of 2). The longest length was 25’, so I got two and a swivel coupler (Oxygen Tubing Swivel Connector, Swivel Connector 1220, 1 pack). Now, the tubing lies flat on the floor and doesn’t get twisted. However, the connector in the middle does catch on furniture.

      My next challenge is to learn how to walk more deliberately, so that the tubing doesn’t wrap around my ankles like a pet’s leash. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions. Of course, what I really want is an oxygen distribution scheme that works like WiFi!

      Regards to all,

      I’m not sure that hyperlinks will work, so I included the Amazon part descriptions

    • #18512

      Thanks so much for sharing this information Daryl – I use the ultra soft cannulas as well, along with the swival piece. I know others will appreciate your post, thank you for taking the time to share these details 🙂

    • #18754

      I fixed the face rubbing problem, I bought a completely different cannula.   It is made by a company called Oxy-tech.  It is a one sided nasal cannula they call an oxy-breather .  It uses a Bluetooth looking earpiece thing  to fit your tubing into and lightly pinches your septum. It is one sided.  There is a clip to keep the weight of the hose from pulling it off.  I’ll include a link to their sight so you can check it out.

      I put up the testimonials page because they have a photo  I’m not sure I’ve adequately described it.

      Ive been on oxygen 24/7 for 18 months now.  I was diagnosed with PF in 2009.  Had been doing great until an exacerbation in February 2017 left me needing supplemental oxygen.  I resisted using it at first, I was only 48 years old.  I finally gave in, but I hated wearing it in public.  I still did it, but it was depressing.  The “face straight jacket” is the worst.  I felt conspicuous and ugly.  I’m much too vain to allow that to go on, so I searched and found this. I’ve been using them ever since.  They are definitely worth the expense.   The only problem I’ve ever had with them is a tendency for the nosepiece to slip a little when I’m sweaty or have a runny nose ( yuck).

      This sounds like a commercial I’m sure, but I can’t say enough.  The earpiece is no different than wearing glasses.  I don’t even feel it and I’ve worn sunglasses overtop with no problems.  Best of all, it doesn’t even touch my cheek.   It gave me back my face.

      Ive got no magic for cold weather though.  I also suffer from Raynauds, so I avoid cold.  My tubes don’t get cold because I keep them and myself warm.


    • #18762
      Mark Koziol

      Hello Kristie, thank you for sharing.  Your sharing of information will help quite a few people. Thank you for engaging in discussion. Mark

    • #26144
      Robert Morgan

      I am on high oxygen and experiencing irritation of my nasal tissues, including crusty accumulations of bloody tissueand soreness. Two treatments have helped. Simply Saline by Arm & Hammer injects a fine saline mist deeply into each nostril. It has no additives, which some reports say are damaging to the tissues. I use it several times a day. You will need a tissue to catch drips. The other treatment is Ayr saline nasal gel with aloe vera. It coats the tissues of my nose and helps reduce drying. I apply in the morning and at night with a Q-Tip or equivalent cotton swab. Neither of these give immediate relief but help reduce the irritation of the nasal tissues.

    • #26149

      Thank you so much for sharing @rbmorgan ! I have no doubt this information will be really helpful to others struggling with skin irritations caused by oxygen use. I appreciate you taking the time to write.


    • #26182
      Karen Martin

      Kristie, I really like the look of the Oxy-tech canula. Will be looking into getting that for myself. In the meantime, I use a small binder clip on my tubing to attach it to the tail of my shirt or pants pocket to keep the weight of the tubing from dragging on my face. It is a big help.

    • #29035
      Luke R Matthews

      If anyone dislikes their cannula as much as me, then I want to share my discovery for a replacement. A Canadian company makes an open air mask called Oxymask. It works with a delivery 1-15 liters. You can go to YouTube and search oxymask to see a short video. Or search My DME company gave this to me when I told them how must I disliked the cannula. I don’t know how long this product has been out, my guess is a while, but it is a game changer for me.

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