Following last week’s blog article on how and why PICC lines are used for cancer treatment, many of you have been in touch with questions about how you can care for your PICC. In this week’s post, we look at how to look after your PICC and what products can help protect the area.
Caring for your PICC Line
When the PICC line is not being used, there is a slight risk of it becoming blocked. To stop this from happening, a small amount of fluid is flushed into the line using a syringe. This is usually done once a week.
PICC Line Management
The caps or bungs at the end of the line need to be changed each week to reduce the risk of infection. The dressing also needs to be changed every week. If it gets wet or starts to peel off, it should be changed sooner. It is difficult to change the dressing with one hand, so the nurses at the hospital may do it for you or arrange for a district nurse to visit you at home. They can also teach a relative, partner or friend how to change the dressing.
Can I get my PICC line wet?
It is important that your PICC line and the transparent dressing is kept dry at all times, as water at the site of the PICC line can increase the risk of infection and the PICC line needing to be removed.
The LimbO Adult Elbow Cover is a comfortable, easy-to-use, reusable waterproof protector which is recommended for use in the shower. The cover provides a soft water-tight neoprene seal that protects your PICC line but does not constrict blood flow.
What are the benefits of using a PICC line cover?
The Care + Wear PICC Line Covers are installed with an EPA approved antimicrobial treatment, that will last for 100 washes. The fabric is also hypoallergenic, meaning it won’t irritate sensitive skin caused by chemo. The insertion site is covered by a mesh window, allowing you to keep an eye out for displacement or infection.
What should I avoid doing?
How will I know if something is wrong with my PICC line?
- If you have a temperature above 37.5C, fever, chills or feel generally unwell. This could be the beginning of an infection
- Oozing from around the line
- Cracks or leaks in the line
- Pain, redness or swelling around the site, in your neck or arm – this could be sign that the line tip has moved and a blood clot has formed in one of the veins
- If your PICC becomes dislodged.
Looking for more information on PICC lines? You can read our PICC line guide here.