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Nursing Care Guidelines for Prevention of Nasal Breakdown in Neonates Receiving Nasal CPAP

McCoskey, Lisa RNC, MS, CNNP

Section Editor(s): MERRITT, LINDA MSN, RNC

doi: 10.1097/
Focus on the Physical

Use of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is increasing as a means of respiratory support for respiratory distress syndrome in many premature neonates across the United States. Nasal CPAP is less invasive and may be as effective as mechanical ventilation in premature infants, and has been shown to cause less lung damage in premature neonates. Because of the increased use of nasal CPAP in neonates, especially younger and more fragile neonates, the presence of nare and nasal septum breakdown may be seen as a complication. Currently, all nasal CPAP systems use a hat and prong or mask type of delivery system. This appears to be effective for many neonates, but for some, it is difficult to appropriately fit the hat and prongs. The result of an inappropriately fitted device can be mild to severe nare and nasal septum damage. This article will discuss the need for nasal CPAP and the mechanics of nasal CPAP, but more importantly, serve to guide caregivers in the appropriate physical assessment and care of a neonate on nasal CPAP with the goal of preventing skin breakdown and nasal damage.

From University Physician's Healthcare, Tucson, Arizona.

Address correspondence to Lisa McCoskey, RNC, MS, CNNP, 4501 E Bellevue St, Tucson, AZ 85712;

© 2008 National Association of Neonatal Nurses