Caring for Your Surgical Incision During the SummerJune 10, 2016
Summertime usually means fun in the sun and trips to the beach, pool or lake. However, the summer months can pose a special challenge for care of a surgical incision. Read more for helpful tips to ensure that you take proper precautions when caring for your incision.
Keep your hands clean
Many bacteria that cause infection are spread by the hands. These bacteria can live on healthy skin and are more common during the summer months. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub (i.e. Purell©) regularly, especially before changing your wound dressing or touching your incision.
Avoid water exposure
Although it may be tempting to enjoy the ocean, pool, or other water sources in the summer months, you should refrain from entering water until your surgeon says it is okay. This is particularly important in the first two weeks after surgery, and if your incision is open or draining fluid.
Avoid extremes in heat and humidity
Increased sweating during the summer months can result in more bacteria on the skin, which in turn can pose a risk to incision healing. Practice good hygiene by showering as directed by your physician, wearing clean clothes each day and changing bed sheets regularly. Avoid shaving the affected limb for one week before surgery and two weeks after your surgery.
Shower with the prescribed medicated soap the day before surgery and the morning of surgery
Showering with a medicated soap (chorhexidine 2%, Hibiclens©) the day before surgery and the morning of surgery will reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin, and has been shown to decrease the likelihood of infection after surgery. (Note: If your prescreening visit identified the presence of Staphylococcus in your nasal test, then the instructions for this shower will be different.)
When participating in activities such as gardening, keep your incision free of dirt and debris. Keep your pets away from the incision particularly when you are changing your wound dressing.
If you have any questions about caring for your incision, please contact your surgeon.