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Dressing your incision helps keep it clean, dry, and free of infection. That way it will heal faster. Your incision may be open to the air by the time you go home. But if you need to change your dressing, follow the steps below.
Use liquid soap. Lather for 1 or 2 minutes. Scrub between your fingers and under your nails.
Rinse with warm water, keeping fingers pointing down. Use a clean towel to dry your hands and turn off the faucet.
Put all your supplies on a clean cloth or paper towel. Open a plastic trash bag.
Peel back the edges of the dressing packages. Pour any irrigation solutions into clean solution cups.
Clean the scissors with soap and water. Cut each piece of tape 4 inches longer than the dressing.
Put on disposable gloves.
Loosen the tape by pulling gently toward the incision. Remove the dressing one layer at a time. Put it right into the plastic bag.
Remove your gloves and put them in the plastic bag. Wash your hands. Then put on new gloves.
Gently clean the incision with soap and water, unless instructed differently by your doctor or nurse. Don't scrub the incision — wipe it gently. Pat the incision dry. Don't use any creams, lotions, or antibacterial ointments unless instructed by your doctor to do so. Apply a clean dressing as directed, if necessary.
Put all used supplies in the plastic bag. Remove your gloves last and put them in the bag. Seal the bag and put it in the trash. Be sure to wash your hands again.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
Bleeding from the incision, or an opening of the incision where it was previously closed
Increased redness, swelling, or pain in or around the incision
Increased drainage, regardless of color, or foul-smelling drainage
Change in the color of the incision
Fever over 101°F (38.3°C), or chills
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