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Mighty Well Co-founder Emily with Port

5 Common Questions on PICC Line Dressing Changes Answered

We have had the pleasure of speaking with Moteah Williams, Registered Nurse (RN). We get a lot of questions from our community about how to protect PICC lines and catheters and keep them dry when bathing or taking a shower. Moteah was kind enough to answer some of the questions we had on PICC line dressing changes that many patients have asked us.

What’s a PICC line dressing change? How important is it?  

“PICC line dressings are used to protect the PICC line insertion site from outside contaminants such as fluids, dirt, or microorganisms (e.g. bacterial, fungi or viruses). PICC line dressings may also be used to secure the PICC line to the patient’s skin to prevent displacement. Changing the PICC line dressing is very important, for it reduces the patient’s risk of developing an infection of the blood”.

Does it hurt to get your dressing changed?

“A PICC line dressing change involves removing the adhesive dressing from the patient’s skin, sterilizing the insertion site and the surrounding skin, and then applying a new sterile dressing to the PICC line insertion site. Removing the dressing should not be painful, but some patients may experience mild discomfort while removing the adhesive dressing from the skin”.

Note: Certain adhesives are less painful than others. Ask your RN what type and brand of medical adhesive they use so you can determine what components the adhesive has. From talking to hundreds of patients, and our personal experience, silicon adhesives are the best for the skin.

Can I do a dressing change myself or does it have to be done by a healthcare professional?  

“A patient should not attempt to change the PICC line dressing. A PICC line dressing change is a sterile technique that can be done inpatient, outpatient, or at home by a home health Registered Nurse (RN). 

The RN is trained on how to change the dressing, how to assess the PICC line for displacement, and how to assess the PICC line insertion site for any adverse reactions and signs or symptoms of an infection. The RN is required to report any abnormal findings to the patient’s physician.”

A PICC line and dressing on a patient

What are the steps in a PICC line dressing change?

“There are youtube videos on how to change a PICC line dressing. The steps to perform a dressing change may be somewhat different for each healthcare facility. For example, some hospitals I worked at required the use of Biopatch, which is a circular antimicrobial foam that is placed over the insertion site before the dressing is applied. I’ve worked at other hospitals that did not require the use of Biopatch. The same goes for Statlock which is used for securing the PICC line.”

How often should I get my dressing changed?

“The dressing should be changed every seven days. If the dressing becomes wet, soiled, loose, dirty, or open to air, the dressing must be changed immediately to prevent microorganisms from entering around the insertion site.

The patient is at risk for developing sepsis if a microorganism enters the insertion site. Sepsis is an infection of the blood which could be life-threatening if it is not caught in time. It is imperative that the patient notifies the physician or the RN if the PICC line dressing becomes wet, soiled, loose, dirty, or open to air”. 

To avoid getting your PICC line dressing wet, and to allow for more comfort during showers or baths, we recommend purchasing a waterproof shower protector. The Mighty Well Waterproof PICC Line Shower Protector allows you to shower with confidence while keeping your PICC line safe and protected.

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