Most of us with advanced COPD will eventually end up on supplemental oxygen. We will be assigned an oxygen company that will oversee all our oxygen needs in conjunction with our doctor's orders. I have compiled a list of the way that using supplemental oxygen can dry out your skin, nose, throat, and mouth.
You first feel the dryness in your nose. You have a continual delivery of oxygen in your nose through cannulas and it continuously dries your nose. Your nasal passages are made of very thin skin and they become irritated very easily. When I was first introduced to supplemental 02, I was in the hospital where they keep the air considerably drier than normal.
My nose bled like a sieve and they finally had to pack one nostril to keep it dry. Once I was home and in a normal humidity environment, my nose cleared up nicely. I do, however, mind my nose daily to keep it free of any sores or dryness.
A humidifier works well in this situation, even a portable tabletop one situated close to you could help fight the dryness. The problem is our lungs cannot take too much humidity so be careful of how much humidity you are putting in the air. Some of us have a built-in humidifier on your concentrator, and if you do have one, make sure to clean it and all other nasal products on a regular basis. I have a built-in humidifier on my BiPap and it works wonders for me at night.
There is a plethora of nasal moisturizers out there. Some are sprays and some are gels. Many of these products can change the environment of your nasal area and can become addictive. Make sure you talk to your pharmacist or doctor before you try them. Avoid using oil-based products like Vaseline because there is a slight chance of combustion. When you find what works for you, apply it regularly to keep dryness at bay. Sometimes trading your cannulas for a full mask can offer some relief.
Throat and mouth dryness
Depending on how well you have learned to control your breathing, you may have become a mouth breather. This will encourage dryness in your throat and mouth. It becomes very annoying and causes more discomfort than necessary. While training myself to close my mouth and breath through my nose I used hard candy to wet my throat and found it eased my mouth dryness. A humidifier works wonders here too.
Your skin becomes dry and flaky causing itchy loose skin. Using a moisturizer daily for arms, legs, and face will keep you more comfortable as the day goes on. It will relieve the tightness of dryness along with the scaly itchy skin.
Try to keep your water as cool as possible while showering. Hot water dries your skin more than necessary. While showering, I take a damp washcloth and pour baby oil on it. Before I get out of the shower, I rub the baby oil on my legs, arms, and mid section. I have my husband do my back. I find this keeps me from drying out too much. I also use a moisturizer for dry itchy skin on a daily basis.
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