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Showering without getting incision wet / Incision care

MeeshaMMeesha Posts: 55
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
How do you wash your hair without getting the incision wet? I use wet wipes for bathing, but I have to wash my hair, and my dr. said not to get soap in the incision.
The nurse at the hospital gave me wrong instructions - she said to take off the bandage 3 days after and let it air dry. Well it's 4 days after, and I finally got to talk to my surgeon, and he said I should still have the bandage on, and just change it. It's already scabbing over, but at least there doesn't seem to be leakage. I'm glad I bought some dressings, but I need tape. In the mean time, I have to figure out this shower dilemma. What do you do?
discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.


  • I had a fusion on l5s1 and took a shower at day four. I had my wife help me dry off, by patting it dry then recovering it for about a week after surgery.I would just take a shower then recover.
  • The nurses at the hospital gave a ton of Tegaderms to put over my incision. It is a very thin transparent dressing.
  • I wasn't allowed to take a shower....:( The hospital gave me some packages of waterless shampoo. You can buy them (in the US) at the drugstore.

    It's like a shower cap that you put on your head, leave it on. I have long hair, but it worked. Finally at day 12, I got to shower! It was heaven.

    Hope your recovery is going well!

  • I had to keep my dressing on for 6 weeks due to incision not being closed properly, then getting an infection.

    I had Tegaderm dressings, which are supposed to be waterproof, but one day mine filled up with water. We didn't have any spare dressings left, so had to go to the hospital for a new dressing.

    After that we wanted to be sure to keep the dressing dry! We taped a small plastic bag over the dressing. You need to check the tape you use is waterproof first, but then it worked well and meant I could shower each day and wash my hair whenever I wanted.

    Great to hear from you Meesha!!! :H
    How are you doing?
  • Hi Meesha, I hope you are doing well with your recovery! My hospital sent me home with waterproof covers for my dressings but the nurse told me if I ran out to cut a ziploc plastic bag and use waterproof tape. It sounded like a good idea to me!

  • Meesha,

    I haven't had back surgery, but years ago I was "gutted" from hip to hip to remove a large tumor. I too wasn't allowed to shower, but hated it so much I did this. I used cling wrap! I made about 3 wraps around my waist, then took the tie string from an old pair of sweats and carefully secured the top of the cling wrap to further prevent water from getting underneath to the incision site. Worked like a charm! Hope it helps.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Cut a piece of trash bag, or grocery shopping bag out large enough to cover the whole area. Tape it on with whatever tape you have other than scotch tape. Duct tape, or packaging tape works. Get it off right after you have had your shower---and washed your hair. Be careful in the tub or shower stall.

  • I had sub cuticular sutures with steri-strips over the incision line. I was able to take a shower on post-op day 5, however, every surgeon has their on directions for care; much of it based on the research on infections, and the rest based on their personal experiences.

  • lol thats a great idea, best one i've heard.
    I bet you could get a patent on that and retire on the royalities.
    i like that, wish i wold have thought about that.

    my best to you.
  • Thanks! I came up with the cling wrap mostly because the 'fold' we have in our hips was right in line with the 11 inch incision - so I needed something snug, secure and waterproof! The other added plus was when I was done showering, I could pat it dry before I removed it, and as such, protecting again my incision from water.

    I've since used it for my 2 neck surgeries and for my arm when they moved my Ulnar in the elbow and hand. Cheap and good for almost any body shape/location!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • lol i'll bet with a little imagination it could be use for all body parts.
    if anyone trys to sneak in ahead of you for patent rights, i'll be your witness that you had it first.

    my best:)
  • Thanks a lot for all your great ideas and experiences. They will be really helpful. And thanks for asking how I'm doing. I'm doing well - no more leg pain, except for the occasional twinge when I get up from lying down for too long. Walking is getting easier.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • I wanna hear how much you love that first shower!!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    If you lived near me I'd have a solution. Before my spinal fusion I was looking on line for dry shampoo. Most came with bizarre warnings implying the stuff was really flammable. Most were around $20-$25 each.

    I found one, at the same price of $21, that was more natural and you just spray in your hair and brush out. Well it was $21 for a BOX OF 12! It's made by Medline who makes tons of hospital supplies. So I've slowly been giving out the bottles to people I meet who are having surgery, have a friend having surgery, etc.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Yes, I also had the tegaderm dressings to put over my wounds. It did a good job of keeping things dry but still letting the incision breathe.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi, I tried the cling-wrap / waterproof tape bandage thing, with my bathrobe tie tied around me! hahah! Well, it got under it a bit, but it didn't seem to get into the bandage. I only washed my hair quickly - any longer and it probably would have got wet.

    I have to bandage it myself, and it's so awkward, at the same time as trying to minimize twisting, and then the tape wouldn't stick due to sweat. Well, I just had to wash my hair, so that feels good at least. I also got a bottle of dry shampoo, so maybe next time I'll try that!
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • Meesha,

    Sorry it didn't work for you [the cling wrap]. I swear by the stuff anymore!! :) I use the cord from an old pair of sweats (I saw you used a robe band) since I can snug it up a tad more, and no bunching = no leaks past the cord.

    I hope something works for ya Meesha. Support *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • If you get to the point that you just can't stand funky hair, you can always soak a wash cloth in a little shampoo and water, rub on head or thru hair. I made my bff do this for me in the hospital. I am really picky about my hair and there was no freakin way I could go 4 days and not wash, even the dry shampoo didn't cut it for me. But the dry shampoo is great for texture when you want BIG hair LOL. for that first outing of course :)

    P.S. I was able to wash everything else ok by myself LMAO
  • I just realized there's no way the keep the incision from getting wet, since if you cover it with plastic and tape, you will sweat under it anyway. But at least it's good for keeping soap and shampoo out of it.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • Sorry Meesha,

    I thought that was what was understood by what I use. You can't keep sweat out, but the 'non-natural' body stuff (water, soap, shampoo) stays out. :) I live in south Florida, hard to keep from sweating! LOL!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hope your doing ok now -

    I used Cling film (cling-wrap) wrapped round me a few times. It did leak thru a bit but I had lots of new bandages and would lie on my stomack with it open to dry then put a new dressing on.

    There is nothing better than a nice shower after surgery! The best is when you can finally have a nice soak in the bath!
  • Thanks - I just saw my doc a couple days ago, and he said now it's ok to get it wet. But I'm still trying to keep soap out of it. Can't wait till I can go swimming again!
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • I bought the expensive Tegaderm in 4x10", but replaced it after each shower - water still seemed to get in and I was absolutely compulsive about gauze before the Tegaderm to not let the water get the my incision.
    SpineAZ - what was the name of that dry shampoo product? I just bought one called Faux Shampoo - a powder, not very nice. I remember Sebastian used to make a product but I can't find it anywhere.
  • Hi Optimist,

    The product you're looking for has been discontinued. It is Sebastian Dry Clean Only. Loved the stuff. They always discontinue my fave products. Great if you just want big hair or have issues shampooing. Here is a link if you want to buy some of the Dry Clean Only, it's pricey, but worth it!! http://www.stuff4beauty.com/page/sebastian_dry_clean_only.html

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