I had my first PICC line placed when I was 14 years old, just a few weeks before summer vacation. After struggling with my first shower (you can read about my experience showering with a PICC line here), swimming with a PICC line felt like it was out of the question. I decided that trips to the beach or pool with my friends that summer would be impossible because I was so afraid that I would get my PICC line wet.
But here’s the thing, that fear held me back from fully embracing my first high school summer! I wish I had known that swimming with a PICC line is possible – you just have to make sure you are prepared and know how to do it. Here are my top three tips for swimming with a PICC line.
1. Keep Yourself Clean and Dry
When a PICC Line gets wet, it allows for the spread of infection. It’s true that trips to the beach or pool do add a bit of increased risk, but it’s nothing a little preparation can’t handle. Start off your day at the beach or pool by keeping yourself covered and protected with our PICCPerfect PICC Line cover. Its patented fold over design will keep your insertion site clean and protected before it’s time to get in the water.
When you are ready to swim, you’ll need some kind of waterproof sleeve to protect your insertion site from getting wet. Our Friend in the Fight and Mighty Well Ambassador Christina Doherty recommended the Acqua Guard in her Mighty Well interview about shower tips (check it out here). Our friends at the Oley Foundation have also recommended the Dry Pro PICC line protector for swimming. You need to find the product that’s right for you, but make sure you prepare yourself with some kind of PICC Line waterproof cover before you get in the water.
Once you have your waterproof PICC Line protector on, you’ll be ready to enjoy your swim! It is important to be mindful of time in the water, as waterproof PICC Line protectors are most effective early on in their use. Once you are finished swimming, check your line for any dampness or wetness and then put your PICCPerfect back on to keep yourself protected for the rest of your day!
2. Consider Water Quality
Certain bodies of water are safer than others for swimming with a PICC line. Oceans and private pools free of pets are normally safe. Lakes and ponds, however, should be avoided as water is stagnant and home to germs and microbes. Hot tubs should also be avoided! The warm temperatures are a perfect breeding ground for microorganisms that increase the risk of infection.
To swim with a PICC line, find a properly treated, well-monitored swimming pool. These should pose no more risk to you than a bath or a shower.
3. Bring Your Squad
Swimming with a PICC line – especially your first time – can be nerve wracking! Make sure you have your Friends in the Fight with you to offer moral support and to help you enjoy your time in the water. It can make a huge difference to have people around that understand what you are going through and who can cheer you on when you overcome your fears and enjoy your first swim with a PICC line.
Do you have specific questions about swimming with a PICC Line? Join us in our Friends in the Fight Group to connect with our supportive and knowledgeable community!