In the days after I first got my PICC Line inserted, I was obsessed with making sure it was clean and free from infection. Though we had regularly scheduled visits from home nurses, my Dad and I made it our mission to learn how to complete a PICC Line dressing change so that no matter what happened, we would be able to keep the site clean, secure, and protected.
Those first few days were scary and I was so grateful to my dad for taking the time to learn how to learn this process. I quickly learned that together, we could complete a PICC Line dressing change like pros.
Here are a few important tips for managing your PICC Line dressing change at home:
Don’t change your PICC line dressing alone.
A dressing change should be a sterile process and sterile techniques should be applied. Either a caregiver, family member, or home nurse should help you with your dressing change to maintain a sterile process throughout.
Check your PICC Line dressing every day and change once a week.
If you notice that the edges of your dressing are pulling off the skin, that means it’s time for a change. This likely will happen about once a week, but if your dressing gets dirty or wet, you may need to change earlier than expected.
Before you start the process, clean the surface you’ll be conducting your PICC Line dressing change on. You can use a household cleaner and then let that surface air dry. Wash your hands with soap and water. Once you’re ready, open up the sterile dressing kit and place it within reach on your cleaned surface.
The PICC Line Dressing Change Process
Patient Education at OSUMC.edu has a great checklist that walks you through the process for this. We recommend you check out their step-by-step PICC Line Dressing guide (with illustrations!) to walk you through the details of your dressing change, but here is my general overview.
- Put on sterile gloves
- Remove the outer PICC Line dressing (if it’s sticky, use alcohol wipes to help get rid of the stickiness and prevent you from pulling on the catheter).
- As you remove the dressing (pull up the arm towards the shoulder) make sure you hold the catheter in place with your sterile gloves and a gauze pad.
- Once the outer dressing is removed, always check the length of the PICC catheter from where it exits your skin to its tip with each dressing change. The length should be the same as when it was placed. Remember, if your PICC comes out during the dressing change process do not push it back in! This is when it’s time to call your doctor and speak to them about next steps.
- Once the dressing is off, clean the area using the tools in your dressing change kit.
- You should clean the skin around the insertion site and the catheter each for at least 30 seconds. Do not blow on the site to help it dry. You should let it air dry!
- Place your anchor device and apply a new gauze dressing and outer cover.
When I worked with my dad on this, I always wanted him to keep the gauze, tape, and dressing as clean and neat looking as possible. I felt more secure when I could see less of the insertion site, and when the tape was placed cleanly, and orderly. This might just be a personal touch, but make sure you’re happy with the final result of your dressing change before you finish up.
Don’t forget your PICCPerfect PICC Line cover!
Once the process is complete, choose your favorite PICCPerfect PICC Line cover to keep you feeling secure and stylish until your next dressing change.