How to keep your wound dry while showering? (+1 tips)

In this article, we will discuss different techniques to make wounds waterproof before going into a shower. We will also discuss the proper way of taking a bath in a waterproof wound dressing.

How to keep your wound dry while showering?

You may keep your wound dry while showering by using:

  • Waterproof plaster
  • Gloves
  • Plastic bag

It is important to cover your wound before going into a shower as water may seep inside the wound dressing and further damage the affected area. Absorbent wound dressings should not be used to cover the wound.

Waterproof plaster

Waterproof plasters are specially designed bandages to cover the wounded area before going into a shower. They also provide a tight tape seal around the edges and ensure that water does not penetrate the dressing to reach the wound.

Waterproof plasters should be breathable and flexible and should not restrain your movement. Also, the dressing should not be tight as it may damage the wound site. They should also have a strong adhesion and be easier to apply. 


Gloves can be worn over a waterproof dressing to provide extra protection. They may also protect cuts, wound dressing, peripheral IV sites, and surgical sites from water while bathing. You may seal the glove with a rubber band if it is loose (1).

You should always inspect your gloves for punctures before wearing them over a waterproof dressing. You should not use gloves if they are damaged as water may seep inside the dressing through punctures and holes.

Plastic bag

You may use a large, sturdy plastic bag to cover your waterproof dressing before taking a shower. You can use tape or a rubber band to secure the plastic bag on the cast, wound dressing, and surgical site to prevent water seepage.

You should preferably take a bath while standing up, without putting too much pressure on the affected limb. Sponge baths are also an option if your doctor has not recommended taking a proper shower.

When should you avoid waterproofing your wounds for showering?

You should use a waterproof dressing for your wounds if your doctor recommends it. Unless instructed, you should not cover your wound with a waterproof dressing in the following circumstances (2, 3):

  • Red and raw open wounds that are missing skin and the fat, bone, tendon, and muscles are exposed.
  • Raw open wounds that are oozing liquid.
  • Wounds and injuries with severe exudates due to burns or fungal infection.
  • Elderly patients who have thin and dehydrated skin.
  • Patients taking steroids as these drugs may cause skin thinning. The waterproof dressing may cause tearing of the thin skin.

Is shower water safe for wounds?

Shower water or simple tap water is safe for wounds, however, early wounds should be kept dry. If the water supply in your area is contaminated, there are chances that shower water may cause infection if it comes in contact with a wound.

Similarly, if there are chemicals in your water supply for some reason, they may damage and infect the wound, prolonging the wound-healing process. Tap water may also aggravate wounds in the presence of soap, shower gels, bathing products, and shampoos (3).

How to shower with a waterproof dressing?

You can adopt the following habits before going into the shower and while bathing with a wound dressing (4, 5):

  • Before applying the waterproof dressing, the area should be clean and dry. You should not apply lotion or moisturizer before using a waterproof bandage.
  • Building a 0.5-1.5 inch waterproof border around the wound helps to prevent water seepage and form a stronghold around the wound.
  • Use a strong and flexible adhesive to secure the dressing in place.
  • You should avoid rubbing the waterproof dressing or adjoining area with soap. However, if a small amount of soap water wets the dressing it will not be harmful to the wound.
  • Do not submerge your waterproof dressing into water. 
  • If you think that the shower water is ‘dirty’ or contaminated, you may use drinking water to clean the area around the waterproof dressing.
  • Dry the wound dressing with a clean towel after showering to soak up excess water.

Why is your wound not drying up after a shower?

If your wound is not drying after a bath, it means your dressing was not sealed properly with an adhesive. Due to an improper application, the water seeped into your bandage, causing wetness and damage to the wound site.

Another possible reason is that you submerged your waterproof dressing in the water for a prolonged time. Going swimming before a bath may damage the dressing as the swimming pool has more chemicals than the shower water.

It is also possible that you are not changing your waterproof dressing regularly or as instructed by your doctor. Normally a dressing is changed 1-3 times per week, especially if it has become wet after taking showers or due to blood or other liquids.

What should you do if your wound gets wet?

You should change your dressing immediately if your wound becomes wet during a bath. If the wound does not require bandaging, you can leave it open before taking the next bath. You should wash your hands before changing the dressing.

Excess wetness of the wound may cause bacterial and fungal infections. The infection at the wound site is characterized by increasing pain, swelling, and redness. More severe infections may cause fever, pus, red streaks, chills, and nausea. 

Your doctor may prescribe cefazolin or vancomycin. Additionally, metronidazole and cefoxitin may also be prescribed in case of severe infection (6). You should not consume alcohol when using metronidazole as it may cause side effects.

Waterproofing the wound before going into a shower is not an expensive or difficult procedure. You may use waterproof dressing on cuts, grazes, and small surgical procedures. Consult your doctor before using waterproof bandages as they are not suitable for every kind of wound.

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