PICC can be used for medications, a large amount of fluids, and TPN (total parenteral nutrition). It can also be used for blood transfusion and to draw blood samples.
Cancer patients are often given a PICC line during chemotherapy treatment, and chemo PICC line can be a real impediment to living your normal daily life – especially during shower.
It is important to protect the PICC line from getting wet, because a wet dressing will increase the risk of getting an infection.
Therefore you need to cover up the dressing with a PICC waterproof shower cover, or use an impermeable dressing over the line which should be changed immediately after the shower.
Let’s jump right in to check out the best waterproof PICC line covers for shower, alongside useful PICC line care tips and videos.
Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter In A Glance
PICC or Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter is a long, thin tube that functions as a standard IV line.
It is inserted in the body through a smaller vein in the arm to help access the blood stream, leading up to a larger vein (superior vena cava), providing a direct connection with your central blood circulation.
The advantages of PICC over a standard IV line is that they can be put in place for a very long time i.e. weeks to even months, whereas a standard IV line needs to be replaced every 3rd day.
As usage of PICC prevents the constant pricking a patient has to go through while attempting to put a standard IV line multiple times, therefore they are preferred over IV lines in cases:
- where long-term treatment with medications like antibiotics, chemotherapy, etc is anticipated, i.e treatment for more than 7 days.
- where the use of medications that are toxic in nature and are likely to cause damage to the smaller veins, like chemotherapeutic agents, are being used.
Recommended Read: 93 Chemotherapy Side Effects Remedies To Improve Quality of Life
Top Choices of Waterproof Chemo PICC Line Covers for Shower
Based on user reviews, here are the top choices of waterproof chemo PICC line covers for shower:
#1: FIGHTECH PICC Line Cast-Cover
The cast cover body of this PICC line shower cover is made of non-toxic TPU waterproof material that is latex free.
Available in various sizes from small to extra large for comfortable fit, this durable product is designed for people 5′ to 6′ (152 – 183cm) and weighing between 110 to 180 pounds (48 – 80 kg).
#2: LimbO Waterproof PICC Line Protector
Recommended by National Health Service (NHS) and used by patients from about 700 hospitals and clinics in UK, LimbO waterproof protector has gained world-wide recognition.
Made in UK, this easy to use Latex-free PICC line protector has comfortable non-restrictive Neoprene seal. It is reusable and fully submersible.
>> Check Out User Reviews of LimbO Waterproof PICC Line Protector
As shown in the video below, LimbO indeed offers a wide range of waterproof protectors for casts and dressings (including PICC/elbow, arm/hand, leg, and foot) that enable people suffering from wounds or broken bones to bathe or shower.
#3: A Chemotherapy PICC Line Shower Cover with Different Design
Available in different sizes of Small / Medium / Large depending on the upper arm circumference, this chemo PICC line protector comes with 3 items:
- 2 x PICC line arm sleeve
- 1 x PICC line shower cover
- Shower cover storage bag
>> Check Out Amazon User Reviews and Learn Why People Love This Waterproof PICC Line Shower
Note that some people may be allergic to the adhesive used in the dressings, and long term use of adhesives may cause some skin irritation in general.
Ensure that the material is not damaged and doesn’t come off while in the shower. Make sure that the cover is not too tight and is not compressing the line. If it’s a reusable cover, make sure it is clean.
Although these chemo PICC line covers give great protection from water, avoid going for swimming even with the cover on.
PICC shower cover might not be available in local stores, so you can consider getting one online, with both disposable and reusable PICC line covers in different sizes are available.
Indeed, PICC line cover is also among the 121 gift ideas for patient undergoing chemotherapy that can be considered.
Potential PICC Line Complications You Must Know
Some of the common complications that may occur include infection, Occlusion (blockage), pain, Thrombosis (blood clotting), Phlebitis (inflammation of the veins), and bleeding.
The brief video below gives an overview of PICC line insertion procedure, as well as the risks that you should be aware of:
Look for, and contact your doctor if there is:
1. Fever and chills.
2. Pain, swelling and redness at the site of insertion of PICC line.
3. Pain while injecting the medications, fluids or while flushing.
4. Chest pain, or difficulty in breathing. The blood clot formed in the line can dislodge and go to your lungs via your blood circulation causing pulmonary embolism, which is an emergency condition and should be brought to the attention of a doctor without any delay.
5. Pain and swelling of the entire arm or neck.
6. Leakage, discharge or bleeding from the site of insertion of the PICC line.
7. Change in the length of the line. If the length of the line appears longer you may need to fix or replace the line.
8. Changes in the skin around the PICC line.
Taking these simple steps you can avoid big complications. Always contact your doctor immediately with the first signs of any discomfort.
PICC Line Care Tips By Medical Experts
PICC line requires special care. The extra care is required to prevent certain complications that may occur. Being connected directly to the central blood vessels, the complications such as infection may very quickly reach to major organs.
Recommended Read: Top 5 Picks of Excellent Chemo Port Shirts and Clothing for Patient
Let’s start with this informative video that gives a great overview on PICC line care, including dressing changes and flushing techniques and what to do in an emergency:
Following are some ways you can take care of your PICC line:
1. PICC line insertion can be an uncomfortable procedure, and you may have pain and swelling for a few days following insertion of catheter. You may use warm compresses to help with the soreness.
Dip a towel in a warm towel, squeeze the water out, wrap the towel in plastic and then apply over the sore region. DO NOT wet the area. Warm compresses can be done 3-4 times a day for 10 minutes. You generally will need it for only the first couple of days.
2. You may have pain following the procedure as well. Your doctor will ideally provide you a pain killer to help deal with it. Consider keeping your arm on a pillow in an elevated position. This should help with the swelling.
3. The dressing over the PICC should be changed once a week. However, you may need to change it immediately if the dressing gets wet or dirty or if it starts to peel off. Also, notice if there is any soakage in the dressing.
If any soakage (blood, pus, etc) or foul smell is present, inform your doctor immediately. Make sure that the dressing is dry and intact always. Also, labeling the dressing– writing down the date– can help you remember when the dressing was last done.
The following video demonstrates how to do a PICC dressing change, covering the equipment, set up, process, assessment of arm circumference and catheter length, etc.
4. The dressing should be done in all the STERILE conditions. Your healthcare provider will teach you or your family member about how to maintain sterility while doing dressing at home. Or you may also be called in to get the dressing done at the hospital.
Although, even if you are told to do the dressing at home, you should go to the hospital once in a while (say once in 2 weeks) to get the dressing done professionally and get the basic condition of the area evaluated. This will greatly reduce the risk of getting any complications.
5. DO NOT apply any lotion or antibacterial ointment surrounding the PICC line.
6. Avoid swimming, hot tubs, and lifting of objects more than 10 pounds.
7. Avoid using scissors near the tube. You may accidentally cut it.
8. Don’t let the PICC simply hang, as it may get accidentally pulled out. Cover it up properly.
9. Always wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer BEFORE you deal with the PICC line.
10. Keeping a smooth-edged clamp can be helpful if your line starts leaking or you accidentally cut it.
11. Do not reuse the medical supplies like syringes. If a syringe or other supplies fall on the ground, discard them.
12. Get your blood pressure checked on the other hand. The pressure might damage the catheter.
Flushing the PICC Line
Flushing is done is keep the PICC line clean. It flushes away any blood that might be there post-insertion of the line. This collected blood can later on clot and form a blockage.
Flush your PICC line with a 10ml normal saline using a 10CC or larger syringe before and after giving medications EACH TIME. If you are not using your PICC line every day, flushing once a week would be sufficient. Use only 10CC or larger syringes as a smaller syringe will push the saline with more pressure leading to catheter damage.
You may also require heparin flush. Your doctor will guide you through regarding when it is required and in what dose, as that will vary as per the age and weight of the patient.
If you feel any resistance while attempting to flush the line, DO NOT force it. Contact your healthcare provider. You may need a replacement if there is a blockage.
Removal or Replacement of the PICC line
Unlike its placement process, the removal of the PICC line is a painless procedure. Because it can be left in position for months, it’s likely that you will need removal only once the treatment is over. However, if there is an infection or blockage or if the catheter is accidentally pulled out or damaged, you may need early removal and replacement.
Once the PICC line is removed, the area where the catheter was placed will be closed with sutures, with dressing over it. Again, regular dressing and keeping the sutured area clean and dry is important to prevent any infections.