PICC Line Care: Dressing Changes, Flushes, & More | Care+Wear

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Caring For Your PICC Line

Life with a PICC line can be challenging. This blog will address some of the most common questions about PICC Lines, including steps to change the PICC line dressing.

How Do I Care For My PICC Line?

  1. Always sterilize your hands before touching your PICC line, and make sure to store your PICC supplies in a clean location.
  2. Keep your PICC line intact at all times and avoid getting it wet. Consider using a PICC line cover to keep your PICC secure and a PICC line shower cover to keep your PICC dry in the shower.
  3. Avoid lifting any weights that are more than 5 to 10 pounds
  4. Do not take part in activities that involve a lot of arm movement
  5. Remind caregivers not to check your blood pressure or give needles in the arm where the catheter is placed
  6. Follow all procedures and precautions your doctor or medical provider has given you before you leave the hospital or clinic

PICC Line Dressing Change

  1. Wash your hands for at least 15 seconds and dry them thoroughly.
  2. Lightly rub alcohol pads over the old dressing.
  3. Remove the tape while holding down the PICC line itself, so you don't accidentally pull it off. Pull all dressing toward the tube.
  4. After the dressing is removed, always check to ensure you do not see any redness, swelling, or pus. In the event you do see these items, you should cover your PICC line with gauze and seek medical help.
  5. Wash your hands for 15 seconds again, and then dry them thoroughly. Open your new dressing package so that you do not touch the contents inside.
  6. Put on a pair of sterile gloves. After you have done this, sterilize the area with the items the doctor or nurse has instructed you to use. You'll then cover the area with gauze or a sterile, clear bandage. You may also apply tape. Watch how to change your PICC line dressing here.

How Do You Flush a PICC Line?

In order to flush your PICC line catheter, you will need saline syringes, clean paper towels, alcohol or chlorhexidine wipes, sterile gloves and a safe container to dispose of needles and syringes.

Guidelines for flushing a PICC :

  1. Wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and water, and pat dry with clean paper towels
  2. Put on the sterile gloves. Remove the cap on the saline syringe, unclip the clamp on the end of the catheter, and wipe the end of it with an alcohol wipe.
  3. Screw or push the syringe with the flushing solution into the end of the catheter tubing.
  4. Now, use the syringe plunger to slowly push the saline liquid into the catheter. This process needs to be carried out patiently. Applying force will lead to a damaged or clogged catheter. Inject all of it gradually, if you face any difficulty contact your provider immediately.
  5. After the liquid has successfully been pushed into the catheter, unscrew the syringe and place it in the sharps container. Wipe the end of the catheter clean with an alcohol wipe.
  6. Put the clamp on the catheter, remove the sterile gloves and wash your hands.

Can I Take a Shower With My PICC Line?

You can take a shower or a bath with a PICC line provided it is kept dry at all times. It is imperative to keep the area around the catheter covered. A PICC line shower cover can help make the process easier and efficient.

PICC Warning Signs After Placement

Several warning signs to look for after your PICC line place has been placed include

  • Fever or chills
  • Blood clots
  • Experiencing pain/ swelling in the arm where the PICC line is placed
  • Fluid leakage when you flush the catheter
  • Redness, swelling or hardening of the PICC Line arm

If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Can I Drink Alcohol With a PICC Line?

It is always advised to consult with your doctor or medical provider regarding alcohol consumption. If you are undergoing treatment for Lyme, alcohol intake can slow down the healing process and result in negative side effects. Alcohol consumption is not recommended for people while on chemotherapy, as it can interfere with medications like procarbazine, and lead to impaired drug break down in the liver. Please contact your healthcare provider for further information.

Can You Swim With a PICC Line?

A PICC line must be kept dry. Therefore, activities like swimming are not recommended. If you are keen, we encourage you to swim with waterproof protectors that help cover PICC lines.

3 Responses

Ruby Cogzell-Brown

Ruby Cogzell-Brown

April 19, 2022

If a picc line site is only cleaned with alcohol based wipes from each dressing change, can it damage your skin over time in that area?



July 20, 2021

do you need to pack the picc line with 5cc’s of heprin to prevent clogging ?

Dolores Heinzmannn

Dolores Heinzmannn

October 13, 2020

Do any of the products have sports emblems?

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