Patient Tips: How to Shower with a PICC Line

by Emily Levy
Showering with PICC line

When you have a PICC line, life is already hard. You have to remember to organize and prep your medication, set up your nursing visits, and to take the time to do your infusions. As this wasn’t enough, one of the biggest challenges becomes showering. Here are our 4 most commonly asked questions for showering with a PICC line answered by our very own professional patient.

1. why can’t a PICC line get wet?

In One Word: Infection

A Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter, known as a PICC Line, is a long-term vascular access device that is deposited into the superior vena cava, a vein that carries blood to the heart. When a PICC line dressing gets wet, this allows for the spread of infection that has a direct access to the heart. Infection can then spread throughout the body.

2. what’s better — bath or shower?

In One Word: Bath

A bath allows for more mobility and reduces the risk of water getting near the PICC Line insertion site. It is important to still cover your line with a waterproof barrier, but you may find yourself being more comfortable in a bath. You can wash your hair and use a washcloth with reduced worry of water splattering. You may need to ask for help washing your hair or getting out of the bath. Always check to see that your dressing is secure and dry after bathing.

3. what shower sleeve do you recommend?

In One Word: Ours

After asking our community what type of shower cover they were looking for, we hit the drawing board and designed a comfortable and more importantly, functional shower cover. This PICC line protector for showering allows for flexibility of the arm without worrying about constricting the blood flow, which some other shower sleeves on the market may cause.  Check them out here!

4. what if my dressing gets wet?

In One Word: HELP

Keeping your PICC line dry and water free is key to keeping your PICC line safe, secure, and preventing infection or dislodgement. If your PICC line does get wet, immediately try to dry the area and call your home health nurse to schedule an emergency dressing change or have a trained family member change your dressing. The sooner your dressing is changed, the lower the risk of infection.

Note: This is an opinion piece. The above information contains some, but not necessarily all, of the information that you may need to care for your PICC line while showering. Please speak with your doctor or nurse if you have questions or issues you may experience. This document should not take the place of conversations with members of your healthcare team about your treatment and the effects you may experience during and after the use of a central line. If you experience any significant change in your health during or after treatment, contact a member of your health care team right away.

Got more questions about PICC Lines?  Join our Friends in the Fight Group to connect with our community.

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