Using Your Walk-In Tub when You Have a Wound
Walk-In Tubs: Everything You Need to Know
When you have a large wound, an open ulcer, or a surgical site, it’s important to care for the area properly to ensure it heals. While your doctor can provide specific instructions on caring for your wound, this article will address common questions regarding bathing in a walk-in tub in this situation. Keep reading to learn more.
Questions Regarding Submersion
Often, the most common question regarding wound care is whether or not it’s safe to fully submerge the wound when bathing. For more ambulatory individuals, this question isn’t usually one of much concern, as they have the option to stand and shower easily, preventing soaking any areas that can’t be soaked. But for those who rely on walk-in tubs for bathing, the issue becomes more complicated.
To best address this question, it’s important to understand that the question of whether or not you can submerge a wound will depend on the kind of wound. If you have sutures in the wound, your doctor will likely advise against getting the area too wet while bathing. However, most other wounds can be submerged so long as the water is not under pressure. This means you should not use the hydro jets in your walk-in tub or put it directly under a powerful spray from a showerhead.
If you can’t submerge your wound, you can still use your walk-in tub, but you’ll have to stick with the handheld sprayer. Simply sit in the tub and use the sprayer to wet and rinse yourself as needed. Again, make sure to avoid spraying the wound directly with too forceful of a spray.
Keeping It Completely Dry
If you’ve been instructed to keep your wound completely dry, bathing gets much trickier. Even for those with complete mobility, managing a bath or shower while keeping a wound dry can be difficult, depending on where the wound is located. If your wound area is on the arm, for example, you can likely keep it dry quite easily by simply resting it on the edge of the tub while bathing. But if your wound is on your leg, this becomes much more difficult.
For wounds that must be kept dry, it’s a good idea to consider investing in some wound protection. Waterproof bandages can be incredibly helpful, but you may also want to look into cast-protecting sleeves. These plastic sleeves are designed to keep casts dry while bathing but can also be used to cover a wound area and ensure it remains completely dry.
Washing and Drying
Assuming that your wound site can get wet to some degree while bathing (as most can be), then it’s important that you wash and dry the area properly. You should avoid scrubbing the area, as this can reopen the wound and cause any sutures to tear; it would also likely be quite painful for you to do this. Typically, you should also avoid applying any soaps or body washes to the area. While it is important to keep the wound clean, body washes and soaps often include moisturizers, fragrances, and other ingredients that can interfere with the wound’s healing.
Gently wash the area with a clean, soft washcloth. If your doctor prescribes a saline solution for rinsing out the wound, use this at the end of your bath or shower. Then, carefully pat—don’t rub—the wound dry with a soft towel. Apply any antibiotics that you’ve been prescribed to use, and put on a bandage if you’ve been instructed to do so.
It’s important to make sure the area is completely dry before bandaging the wound. Trapping extra moisture in and around the wound site can interfere with your body’s ability to heal and lead to an infection.
Bath Oils and Salts
If you have a wound and have been given permission to bathe, it’s generally a good idea to avoid adding any bubbles, oils, or bath salts to your water when bathing with a wound. These items can enter your wound and interfere with healing or cause pain and irritation in the area.
Many patients wonder if adding Epsom salt to your bath is still acceptable. Epsom salt is a popular addition to bath water for walk-in tub users, as it can ease inflammation in muscles and joints. Epsom salt has also been used to help draw out infection in a wound, which can make it sound like the perfect addition to your bath when bathing with a wound. However, you should always consult your doctor before doing this.
Individuals who use walk-in tubs typically do so because they want to maintain independence while bathing. However, if you have a wound that requires special care, please do not hesitate to ask for assistance with washing yourself to ensure the wound can heal properly. Once you’re healed, you can return to bathing independently again.