Showering with a Central Line

Oh the joys of showering with a central line… Let’s talk about that!

I’ve had several people ask me about the showering method I’ve come to love the most over the years.  It’s a bit tricky to answer, because I’ve had all types of lines.  So I thought I’d share my tips to showering with all of them!

P.S. The last one is my top fave and current method, so stick around.My first CVC was a port.  Oddly enough, the surgeon who placed mine placed the ones I had on the side of my ribcage, right about the spot where a bra band hits.  I think he did this because he thought it would be nice for me to not have to have it on my chest and more easily hidden.  Unfortunately, it ended up being terribly painful the days it was accessed due to my bra hitting it.  All that to say though, my port was in an unusual spot.

During my first few months living with my port, I just didn’t shower when I was accessed.  It was far too scary for me.  My mom would wash my hair in the sink when it got greasy, and I just spit bathed the rest of the time.  Learn form my mistakes, and know that this is not necessary.  Safe showers can happen!

Eventually I started using Shower Shields (you are going to see another brand of nearly the same product called Aqua Guard in the following photos) that my home health company sent me.  Shower Shields are a thin plastic sheet with a boarder of adhesive. Here is an Aqua Guard pictured off the body.

While they seemed like a great idea, they didn’t stick to my skin for anything.  Especially when I moved around, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who likes to move around in the shower…. Here is a photo thanks to my friend Stephanie who has a port and occasionally uses Aqua Guard to cover it while showering. She actually puts a bit of tissue under it so she’s able to easily see if water got in and might have messed with her dressing.

After the Shower Shield alone failed, I began taping it in hopes of reinforcement.  While it worked better that way, it certainly wasn’t my favorite method.  But it was all I had the energy to figure out at the time, so until my final port was taken out, this is what I did. (I know this doesn’t sound like a great plan, but hold tight, we will get to another solution soon!) Here is a photo of Stephanie with the same Aqua Guard taped on for more reinforcement.

The second type of line I had was a PICC.  I was thrilled to learn that there were multiple options for covering these.  I ordered a DryPro while I was in the midst of a two month hospital stay, and it was a game changer!

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The DryPro sleeve and pump.

It is essentially a rubbery sleeve that you pull over your arm (it’s got to be snug, so it can be a bit of a struggle to get it on, but it’s so worth it while you’re showering.)  Once it’s on, you use a little pump that attaches to the valve and you pump the air out and close the valve.  Then you are ready to go!  (Just be sure not to stick your finger in the sealed edge like I did the first time, haha.)

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Loose sleeve, open valve.
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Pumping the air out.
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Air is out, remove pump, close valve.

You can also use the DryPro for peripheral IV’s which is great too.  I’ve even used it to go swimming before, and it worked great!

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DryPro in action!

This product is one of several that are made for PICC coverage.  I don’t have experience with any of the others, so I’ll just stick to sharing this one today.  But know that there are other options out there for you to search around for and see what might work best for you and your PICC.

Last on my list of CVCs is the Hickman.  Somehow even before I got my Hickman placed, I knew exactly how I was going to cover it for showers.  I suppose I was a little stressed about it since I was going from a PICC and being able to use the nice and simple DryPro to another chest line, which seem to be the trickiest to cover.

Here’s what I have come up with.  I get a piece of 4×4 gauze and a 6×8 Tegaderm (while I’m pretty allergic to them, I’m able to use these for the short amount of time while I shower without problem. If you are extremely allergic, be careful.)

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4×4 gauze and 6×8 Tegaderm.

First, I remove the large middle portion from the Tegaderm.Showering00737Web

Then, I remove the backing from the sticky side of the Tegaderm.Showering00740Web

Next, I essentially make a big ol’ Bandaid with these two supplies by putting the gauze in the center of the Tegaderm.

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The gigantic Bandaid.

I will note here that I have to move one ply of the gauze to the side to make it a bit longer to make sure it covers my entire dressing, I tried to show that in this photo.

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See where I slid the second layer of gauze over just a bit to make sure it covered my entire dressing?

Then I place the gauze covered portion where my dressing is.Showering00746Web

Once the large gauze covered Tegaderm is over your dressing, you can remove the outer edge that helped guide it and make sure it didn’t fold onto itself and stick together.  Press around the edges to ensure it is sealed.Showering00747Web

It’s super sealed, and I’ve had very few instances where this peeled up during a shower.  This includes times of me moving my arm all the way up over my head to shave my armpits and all kinds of moving around, so it’s been a huge advancement since my Shower Shield days!Showering00762Web

On dressing change days, I go ahead and just use a regular 4×4.75 in Tegaderm over my dressing since I change it immediately after I shower.Showering00736Web

Going back to those of you with ports, I am hopeful that this method would work for you as well.  While I cannot attest it with my own experience (because this idea didn’t occur to me until several years after I had my last port) my sweet friend Stephanie uses this method with her port accessed and says it works great!

If you are going to be paying for these items out of pocket, it comes to be just about the same cost according to my findings on Amazon.

While a box of 7 7×7 Shower Shields runs about $10, a box of 10 6×8 Tegaderms is about $16.  Making the Shower Shields about $1.43 a piece and the Tegaderms $1.60, so not too bad if it works significantly better for you!

These are just some suggestions to try if you’re having troubles with showering comfortably with your line.  I hope that they are helpful, and even if they don’t work maybe they’ll lead you to thinking outside of the box and coming up with your own perfect showering plan!  I’d love to hear your methods.

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