It remains common practice to give patients a bath after a surgical procedure and it is an ideal time for nurses to perform wound and skin assessments.

Bathing after an operation can be complex as the dressings, incisions, sutures, and drains require special attention to keep dry and infection free to promote an optimal healing environment.  Doing this takes care, time, and commitment which are often in short supply among nurses.

Even after the patient can start ambulating and begin to perform some selfcare activities, it is always a concern among nurses and home-based caregivers that the integrity of wound dressings might be compromised and cause surgical site infections (SSIs).

SSIs are a preventable surgical complication, so let’s take a look at how to optimize bathing opportunities and prevent infections.


Protect Surgical Drains and Dressings During Post-Op Baths

When bathing the patient, the goal is to keep the dressings dry. Bed baths make this relatively easy because the caregiver can control the amount of water used during the bath. However, bed baths are not as effective as a good shower.

Another concern is managing drains that may become dislodged during ambulation and bathing.  Wound drains need extra care to prevent kinking, tugging, and accidental removal.  Too much irritation at the drain’s insertion site may cause bleeding, an increase in incision drainage, and pain.

Thus, it is necessary to constantly assess the wound area and take the necessary measures before and after bathing to keep the wound, dressings, and drain sites clean to promote optimal healing.


Assessment and Troubleshooting to Protect Surgical Drains for Nurses and Caregivers

Wounds and surgical drains require regular assessment to determine how well they are healing. This is usually done during and after bathing to ensure that the dressing and wound remain dry and intact.

The various types of wounds, wound closures (sutures, staples, steri-strips), and surgical drains used (Jackson-Pratt, Penrose, Hemovac) all influence healing and the care required for these new incisions.

Infection complications such as fever, yellow/green discharge, odor, heat, redness and swelling can indicate a disruption in wound healing that may lead to an infection.  These classic signs of infection are a concern for caregivers and a source of great worry for patients.

Drains can take care of a little more complicated.  Assess & Protect surgical drains can involve:

  • Checking for leakage and patency. Reinforcing the dressing and repositioning the tubing may be warranted to improve functionality of the drain.
  • Complete blockage or dislodgement can be serious complications and the treatment team should be notified immediately if this occurs.  (Apply a sterile dressing to the site in the interim).

One of the most innovative solutions for securing drains and caring for wounds involves the use of transparent wraps or films. These are medical-grade plastic wraps that look like cling film, which are placed overdressing and drain sites.  Wrapping dressings and drains securely during bathing and ambulation or simply while moving around in the bed can provide a useful tool for caregivers and give patients great comfort during difficult times.


How SealSkin Medical Wrap Can Help with Post-Op Wound Care

SealSkin medical wrap is a revolutionary kind of medical-grade wrap that is fully transparent, self-adhering, and waterproof. It is perfect for use in post-operative care to prevent all the problems discussed above.  In addition, it can prevent tape injuries for patients with fragile and sensitive skin.

Patients can use SealSkin medical wrap around wound dressings and drain tubes prior to bathing and ambulating to keep everything under it dry and secure. For nurses and caregivers, SealSkin medical wrap will make post-operative care easier and less stressful. Both you and your patients can now take charge of their hygiene without compromising the new surgical site. See more about how SealSkin Medical Wrap makes wound and surgical drain management better and easier in post-op patient care.