Surgery creates a wound or several wounds that take time to heal. It is important to keep the wound dry to help promote healing. Soaking a wound will delay healing or even introduce bacteria that can cause infection. However, we want to stay clean and look forward to a nice shower or bath, especially after surgery. But can you? When is it safe?
Most surgical wounds can get wet after 48 hours. If special glue (Dermabond®) is used, you might be able to shower even sooner.
Read your discharge instructions.
Make sure to read your discharge instructions. Every procedure is different and every patient is different, so your instructions will be written specifically for you. Follow your doctor’s instructions as they are crucial for a safe recovery.
Keep your wound clean.
Avoid soaps, lotions, creams, ointments, powders, or other bath products around and especially not on/in the wound. If your doctor didn’t prescribe it or give the OK, then it’s off limits until you’re healed.
Avoid rubbing your wound.
When you’re cleaning your body, don’t scrub or rub, which can not only irritate skin but open the wound. It is best to let water gently run over the wound. Be cautious when drying off and pat gently so the towel doesn’t pull on the skin.
Ask for help.
Have your spouse or family member help you reach those hard-to-clean areas, guide the shower spray to avoid getting certain areas wet, and dry off gently.
Instructions say no shower!
If you can’t go under running water, don’t worry. You can use cleansing wipes to make your skin feel refreshed and odor free.
What about swimming or bathing?
Wait at least two weeks to swim or bath. Soaking a wound under water can cause infection and slow healing. In the summer, you can easily go to the beach and wade. Just keep the wound protected from the sun and water.