A guide to handy devices that can help you to enjoy a shower or bath after cancer surgery, plus other ways to stay clean and confident even if you are confined to bed…If you’ve had cancer surgery, it can sometimes be challenging when it comes to bathing and keeping clean. Fortunately, there are a range of useful products which are specially designed to help make things easier and keep you feeling fresh, clean and comfortable.
Things to help with bathing after surgery
Bathing, showering and washing can be more difficult when you’ve had surgery for cancer.
Following surgery, many people find it more difficult to move around. You may feel less stable, and get fatigued (tired) more quickly. You may also need to look after post-surgery fluid lines, drains or dressings while you are bathing.
However, having a nice bath or shower can be a great way of helping to relax your body and mind.
“For me, it was about focusing on the simple pleasures such as enjoying a relaxing warm bath.” Miriam, Live Better With community member
Stability and moving around
Using a hand rail can be a great help with getting in and out of the shower or bath, and with moving around the bathroom.
The Live Better With community recommend the quick suction grab bar, which can help with stability. The suction action means it can be attached to nearly all surfaces – so there’s no need to drill any holes or damage any surfaces, and it can be temporarily locked in place, giving you added confidence.
The suction grab bar is also portable, so you can take it with you whenever you’re away from home:
“A very stable and easy to move around grab bar so handy you can take where ever you need it, excellent product.” Eric, Live Better With community member
Shower and bath seats
If you have trouble standing up for long enough in the shower and need some extra support, using a shower seat or stool can help. With its non-slip feet and adjustable height, you can enjoy a bath or shower in comfort with the adjustable shower stool:
“I cannot sit down in the bath, this adjustable seat height allows me to have a bath or shower it is perfect. Also very reasonable price.” Jean, LBW customer
The Live Better With community also recommend the Teqler 2 in 1 shower chair and stool, which is lightweight for ease of use and can quickly be converted from a chair into a stool by removing the arms and backrest.
Long handled sponge
After cancer surgery, many people experience soreness and restricted movement, which can make it more difficult when it comes to washing.
A long handled body washer can make it easier to reach those tricky areas when bathing or showering. The Live Better Community recommend the long handled net sponge, which includes a scrunchie net to help create a good lather. When you’re finished, simply hang it up to dry using the special loop:
“After my surgery, I could barely move my arms so I bought a long-handled sponge to help scrub my back and other areas I could not reach.” Live Better With community member
Once you’ve had a bath or shower, getting dry afterwards can sometimes be a challenge. If you need help after bathing or showering, you can also get cold surprisingly quickly.
You can help to keep warm, and feel less exposed, with the Drying Drapon – a sleeveless garment which attaches with an easy to use magnetic fastening and drapes over the body while you are being dried.
Protecting wounds and dressings
If you’ve had breast surgery, it’s important to protect any post-operative fluid drains. Wearing a mastectomy belt can help you to enjoy a shower with confidence.
With two pockets designed to hold a total of four fluid drains, and adjustable straps, the Brobe Shower Belt can be safely worn in the shower, as well as during the day under normal clothes.
“This is a great product! It works in the shower and just about everywhere else when you need somewhere to hold drains, even under clothes.” Live Better With community member
PICC Line cover
If you have a PICC line – a long, thin intravenous tube which is used to administer medicines – you will need to protect it when you are bathing. The Live Better With community recommend the reusable waterproof PICC line cover, which fits comfortably over your PICC site and allows you to enjoy your bath or shower:
“I have really missed having decent showers since treatment started. It feels so good to be able to have a shower comfortably. I don’t have to worry about my PICC line getting wet and I can have longer showers by sitting down when I’m feeling tired.” Gregg, Live Better With community member
If you have a post-surgery dressing or stoma cover, you will need to keep them dry during a bath or shower.
Using a waterproof adhesive film roll, such as Opsite Flexifix Transparent Film Roll, can help to protect dressings – even those in awkward areas – and keep them safely in place, while allowing the skin to breathe. The transparent roll also means that you can keep an eye on your dressing:
“I used this transparent film roll to cover my bandages after my surgery. They worked like a charm!” Live Better With community member
Keeping clean and fresh without bathing
Surgery can leave you feeling fatigued and sore. If you’re not currently able to take a bath or a shower, there are lots of other ways to keep feeling clean and fresh, from cleansing wipes and body washes to special shampoos.
Towel off body wash
If you’re recovering from surgery, or have limited mobility, it can be difficult to wash personal areas of your body. The Live Better With community recommend using a waterless body wash, such as Tena Wash Cream and Nilaqua towel off body wash, which is kind to the skin and does not need to be rinsed off.
“I was first skeptical about using this waterless body wash. It actually works!! It’s a watery solution that you can add to the area of body to clean, rub it a bit which produces some soap-like feel, then rinse with a towel.” Tony, Live Better With community member
Face and body wipes
Cleansing wipes can also offer an effective and convenient alternative to washing, without the need for soap or water. Bath in Bed wipes are gentle on the skin and ideal for cleansing your face and body and making you feel more comfortable.
“I regularly order these as cancer meds can leave me too tired or dizzy to shower comfortably or safely. They are large and very gentle on the skin… They can be heated in the microwave if you prefer them warmed up.” Live Better With community member
Shampooing your hair
Washing your hair with soap and water actually requires a fair amount of mobility, and it can be particularly challenging after you’ve had surgery. If you find it difficult to wash your hair, using a shampoo cap, such as the Nilaqua shampoo cap, can help.
Simply place the cap on your head, tuck in your hair and massage your scalp, and afterwards dry your hair with a towel – there’s no need for rinsing.
“Works a treat. Simple to use and leaves the hair shiny and manageable.” Live Better With community member
The Live Better With community also recommend the Nilaqua towel-off shampoo, which allows you to effectively clean your hair without the need for water, and contains no irritating parabens or alcohol.
Simply apply the shampoo to dry hair and massage it to lift any dirt and grease, then towel dry your hair, leaving it feeling soft and clean.
Bathing and keeping clean after cancer surgery can be tricky, but there are lots of products that are specially designed to help keep you feeling fresh and confident.
Do you have any post-surgery bathing tips, or are you looking for ideas? Why not join our Live Better With Cancer Community Forum.