Skip to Content

Can a person with a tracheostomy take a shower?

Taking a shower is an important part of daily hygiene for most people. However, for someone with a tracheostomy, showering may seem daunting or even dangerous. A tracheostomy is a surgical opening made in the front of the neck and into the trachea (windpipe) to allow direct access to the breathing tube. This opening allows air to enter the lungs if the usual route for breathing through the mouth and nose is blocked or impaired.

A tracheostomy tube is inserted through this opening to keep it open and make it easier to breathe. The tube also makes it possible to suction out mucus and saliva from the airway. Since the tracheostomy tube provides direct access to the lungs, special care must be taken to keep water from entering through the opening while bathing or showering.

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to some common questions about showering with a tracheostomy:

  • Yes, it is generally safe for a person with a tracheostomy to take a shower, with proper precautions.
  • Special equipment like shower shields, water-resistant tracheostomy dressings, and suction machines can help keep water out of the tracheostomy.
  • Caregiver assistance is recommended to help keep the tracheostomy dry and suction water if needed.
  • The shower water should be directed away from the tracheostomy opening.
  • Consult your doctor and respiratory therapist for specific guidance tailored to your situation.

Is Showering with a Tracheostomy Safe?

With the right precautions, most people with tracheostomies can safely take showers. The main risk is water getting into the tracheostomy tube and lungs, which could cause coughing, breathing problems, or infections. However, the risk can be minimized by taking certain steps:

  • Use a waterproof dressing or flexible tracheostomy shield over the opening when showering. This creates a barrier to keep water out.
  • Make sure the tracheostomy dressing/shield has a good seal around the tracheostomy tube.
  • Use suction to remove any water that gets past the tracheostomy shield.
  • Have someone assist during the first few showers to help troubleshoot issues.
  • Aim the shower spray away from the tracheostomy opening.

With these precautions, showering is generally safe. Some doctors may recommend waiting 1-2 weeks after the initial tracheostomy procedure to allow proper healing before showering. Talk to your doctor about when it is safe to start showering and the best techniques to use.

Special Equipment/Precautions for Showering with a Tracheostomy

Certain equipment and precautions can help make showering safer and easier for those with a tracheostomy:

Tracheostomy Shields

Tracheostomy shields are plastic covers that fit securely over the tracheostomy opening to prevent water from entering. Some attach with velcro or tie around the neck. Flexible silicone options provide a tight seal and are comfortable.

Waterproof Tracheostomy Dressings

There are special waterproof adhesive dressings made for covering tracheostomies when showering. These provide a barrier to keep the opening dry.

Waterproof Tape

Waterproof tape such as Hypafix can be used to seal regular tracheostomy dressings so they repel water when showering.

Shower Chairs/Benches

Sitting while showering is safer for some individuals. Shower chairs, shower stools, or shower benches allow sitting or resting while bathing.

Handheld Showerheads

Using a handheld, adjustable showerhead allows better control over water flow and direction, making it easier to avoid the tracheostomy site.

Showering Assistance

Having someone present to help is an important precaution in case any issues arise. They can make sure water does not get into the tracheostomy, monitor breathing, and perform suctioning if needed.

Suction Machines

A suction machine should be kept nearby when showering to remove any water that accidentally gets past the tracheostomy shield into the airway.

Showering Tips for Those with a Tracheostomy

Here are some useful tips for showering safely with a tracheostomy:

  • Take only short, lukewarm showers to minimize exposure.
  • Position the showerhead so spray aims away from the tracheostomy.
  • Use a handheld showerhead and keep water pressure low.
  • Have someone assist you or stay nearby in case help is needed.
  • Use a plastic tracheostomy shield or waterproof dressing over the opening.
  • Check for signs of water getting in – coughing, trouble breathing, gurgly sounds.
  • Suction out any water immediately if it gets past the tracheostomy dressing.
  • Pat dry around the tracheostomy after showering and put on a new dressing.

Risks if Water Gets in the Tracheostomy

If water makes its way down the tracheostomy tube into the airway and lungs, problems can occur including:

  • Coughing or choking – Inhaling water triggers coughing as the body tries to expel it.
  • Breathing problems – Water reduces oxygen intake and makes breathing more difficult.
  • Respiratory infections – Bacteria in water raise infection risk in lungs.
  • Blocked tracheostomy tube – Water makes suctioning through tube difficult.
  • Low blood oxygen – Impaired gas exchange causes oxygen levels to drop.

Seeking medical help quickly is important if water gets past the tracheostomy shield to prevent complications. Suctioning out the water, additional oxygen, antibiotics, or other treatment may be needed.

When to Avoid Showering with a Tracheostomy

In certain situations, showering may be risky or require extra precautions:

  • Right after tracheostomy surgery – Wait 1-2 weeks until healed.
  • If unable to stand or sit supported in shower.
  • If unable to cough forcefully to clear any water inhaled.
  • If tracheostomy dressing or shield does not seal adequately.
  • If highly prone to respiratory infections.
  • If unable to have someone nearby to help if needed.

Talk to your doctor and respiratory therapist to determine if showering is safe in your specific case or if any additional steps need to be taken to reduce risks.

Transitioning to Showering After a Tracheostomy

The first shower after getting a tracheostomy can be daunting. Here are some tips for the transition:

  • Start with a shower chair and assistance until comfortable with process.
  • Use a handheld showerhead and aim water away from tracheostomy.
  • Have suction machine and extra tracheostomy supplies ready.
  • Begin with short, lukewarm showers of 5 minutes or less.
  • Increase shower length gradually as tolerated.
  • Communicate any issues to healthcare provider to refine techniques.
  • Watch for signs of respiratory infections and treat promptly.

Be patient – it takes time to adapt to new routines after a tracheostomy. With proper guidance from your healthcare team, showering can safely become part of your regular self-care.

FAQs About Showering with a Tracheostomy

Can I shower with a tracheostomy and ventilator?

Yes, individuals dependent on a ventilator can often shower or take baths. The ventilator tubing and tracheostomy area must be kept completely dry. A special waterproof cover is placed over the ventilator. Assistance is crucial to prevent disconnection and ensure safety.

Can water go down a tracheostomy tube?

Yes, water can go down the tracheostomy tube if protective shields or dressings fail to keep the area dry while bathing or showering. This is dangerous, so waterproof coverings and other precautions should be used.

How soon after a tracheostomy can I shower?

Most patients must wait about 7-14 days after tracheostomy surgery before showering to allow proper healing in the neck area. The exact timeframe depends on the advice of your surgeon.

Should the tracheostomy dressing get wet in the shower?

No, the tracheostomy dressing should stay dry when showering. A waterproof covering should be placed over the dressing, or it should be sealed with plastic wrap to prevent moisture from soaking through.

Tracheostomy Showering Equipment Description
Tracheostomy Shower Shield Plastic cover that fits over tracheostomy to block water
Waterproof Tracheostomy Dressing Adhesive dressing made to repel water during bathing
Shower Chair/Stool Allows sitting while showering for safety and comfort
Handheld Showerhead Better control of water flow direction
Suction Machine Removes water from tracheostomy and airway if needed


Showering is an important part of self-care for people with tracheostomies. With proper precautions like tracheostomy shields, waterproof dressings, shower chairs, suction availability, and assistance, most can shower safely during and after recovery from a tracheostomy procedure. Certain high-risk individuals may need to avoid showering or take additional steps to minimize risks of water intake into the tracheostomy and lungs. By understanding the proper techniques, equipment, and risks, showering can typically become manageable for those with a tracheostomy and an important part of their hygiene routine.