How to Care for a PICC Line Site after It Is Removed?

A PICC line is placed to deliver intravenous fluids and medication.
A PICC line is placed to deliver intravenous fluids and medication. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A PICC line -- peripherally inserted central catheter -- is a thin tube that is threaded through a vein in the arm and travels to the heart. A PICC line is used to deliver medication and prevents the need for multiple needle sticks. It must be properly cared for to prevent bacteria from entering the body and causing infection while it is in in your arm and until the site heals after the line is removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterile gauze
  • Sterile cotton swab
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Large adhesive bandage or medical tape

Wash your hands before touching the PICC line site. Until the skin is healed, infection can occur if bacteria get into the wound.

Squeeze a pea-sized amount of ointment onto the cotton swab. Apply a thin layer to your skin over the area where the PICC line was removed.

Fold a sterile piece of gauze into a one-inch square. Place it over the wound and secure in place with a large adhesive bandage or medical tape. Change the dressing daily until it is healed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Signs of infection include redness, swelling in your arm, fever or drainage from the PICC line site. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these.

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