Protect Your PICC Line: Shower, Exercise & Daily Life Tips

by Emily Levy
Protect Your PICC Line: Shower, Exercise & Daily Life Tips

Mighty Well CEO and CO-Founder Emily Levy has been suffering from severe Chronic Lyme Disease since 2007. Yet, like most Lyme patients, she was undiagnosed and untreated for years. During her sophomore year at Babson College, Emily had a PICC line in her arm for six months, which delivered intensive IV medications to battle her Lyme disease. She currently has a PICC again to do her treatments. 

We’ve been there. PICC Line Care can be tough, especially to keep it clean. 

how do I care for my PICC line?

After your PICC has been placed, use warm compress on the insertion site for ten to thirty minutes to reduce pain.  In the case of swelling, putting your arm up on top of pillows when you are in a sitting or lying position is a good remedy.

To avoid infection, it is necessary to wash your hands at all times for PICC line care. Aside from proper hand washing, use sterile gloves to protect the IV from dirt, germs or bacteria. Disinfect the catheter, tubing, caps and other parts of the PICC before and after use.

You must also avoid activities that could expose your IV to infection, such as bathing and swimming. You should take showers instead. Even when you take showers you must be very careful! Your PICC insertion site must not get wet; you should use a waterproof shower cover, or shower sleeve. I have personally used a variety of shower covers. Before knowing about these, I used to shower by covering my PICC with plastic wrap and tape! However, after using several PICC shower covers, I personally would recommend the Waterproof Shower Protector. This one has been the most effective at keeping all the water out and staying in place. Nonetheless, make sure to check that the pump works correctly when putting it on and that you choose the size of best fit for your arm. 

Demanding or strenuous activities, such as exercising, that require the arm on which the PICC is placed, should be avoided. Ask assistance when you have to lift heavy objects to avoid pressure on your PICC.

keep it covered

You can use a PICC line sleeve or infusion sleeve to protect the tubing, catheter and cap from force, rubbing and other influences that may tug the line from its place.  A PICC line cover will also help protect your PICC from dirt and will help you do your regular activities with ease and comfort. 

Before and after medication, you have to clean the tubing, caps, hubs and injection ports. You may use an alcohol pad to remove germs that may have attached to your catheter. Remember to change your alcohol pad with each part that you clean to avoid transmission of germs or dirt to other areas.

The bandage used on the site where the catheter penetrates the skin should be changed regularly. A medical practitioner will be changing your dressing; however, you must be aware of what he or she is doing, and make sure he or she is taking the necessary sanitary precautions! If you observe any sign of infection on the site of insertion, you must let your doctor know.

protecting your PICC line

After inserting your PICC line, your doctor or caregiver will give all the information you need to properly care for your catheter. Nevertheless, do not hesitate to call your caregiver if you need help or feel unusual pain on the area of insertion, in your arm, neck, shoulder or chest.

In case blood clot, blockage or infection on the site of insertion or in your catheter tubing, your PICC may need to be removed and replaced with a new one.

Mighty Well designs medical apparel and accessories for patients going through long-term treatment. Our first product was the PICCPerfect PICC Line Cover. This cover allows patients to safely and securely protect their PICCs and do their treatment without having to expose their insertion site. Our covers are antimicrobial, moisture wicking, machine washable, and contain 4-way stretch. They are reinforced with medical grade elastic to prevent it from falling down. Our products are made in the USA and recommended by PICC nurses!

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