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How to Care for your Child's Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter


A PICC can stay in place for several weeks or months. You will need to care for the PICC, and for the skin around the catheter site. Proper care is important to prevent damage to the catheter, and to prevent infections. Change your child's bandage and injection caps every 3 to 7 days or as directed. Change the bandage any time it becomes wet, dirty, or moves out of place.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child feels lightheaded, short of breath, or has chest pain.
  • Your child coughs up blood.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Blood soaks through your child's bandage.
  • Your child's arm or leg feels warm or painful, and is larger than usual.
  • Your child has trouble moving his or her arm.
  • Your child's catheter falls out.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has swelling, redness, pain, or pus where the catheter was inserted.
  • You see a tear in the tubing of your child's PICC.
  • You see fluid leaking from the insertion site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

How to prepare to change the bandage and clean your child's skin:

  • Place a bandage kit on a clean surface.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Put on clean medical gloves and a mask. If someone is helping you, that person also needs to wear a mask and gloves.
  • Carefully remove the clear bandage. Unsnap the line from the area holding it in place. Use alcohol to remove the tape. Remove your gloves and throw them away.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.

How to prepare your supplies:

  • Open the bandage kit with the folded side facing up. Carefully unfold the corners of the bandage kit. Do not touch anything inside of the bandage kit with your bare hands. Everything inside of the bandage kit is sterile.
  • Pick up each folded glove by its cuff and put it on one at a time. Touch only the cuff when you put a glove on. Do not touch the outside of the gloves with your bare hands. Do not let them touch anything that is not sterile.
  • Open the cleaning pads and lay them on the bandage kit.

How to clean your child's skin and the catheter:

  • Use the cleaning pads to scrub the area where the catheter is inserted into your child's skin (insertion site). Scrub the area around the insertion site as directed. Start at the insertion site and clean outward from it in circles.
  • Use a new cleaning pad to scrub the tubing that comes out of your child's skin. Use a downward motion to clean the tubing. Do not go up and down the tubing. You might get germs into the tubing when you go back up.
  • Place the pad that fits around the insertion site as directed. Place the tape bandage under your child's catheter line to secure it to your child's skin. Snap the line in place.
  • Apply a new bandage as directed. If the bandage is clear, make sure you can see the insertion site.

How to care for the caps:

  • Wash your hands and put on clean medical gloves.
  • Twist the caps to remove them from the end of each port. Scrub the end of each port with an alcohol pad for 15 seconds. Place a new cap on the end of each port.
  • Your child's healthcare provider may tell you to place protective caps over the injection caps. The caps will protect your child's catheter from infection when it is not being used.

What you can do to prevent a bloodstream infection:

  • Wash your and your child's hands often. Wash your hands before and after you touch the catheter. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Tell others to wash their hands before and after they visit. This will decrease germs in your home.
  • Limit contact with your child's catheter. Only touch the catheter when you need to give your child medicine or clean it. Do not let your child or anyone else touch the catheter or medicine tubing.
  • Keep the tubing clamped when not in use. This will prevent air and water from getting into your child's catheter.
  • Keep the catheter site dry. Cover your child's catheter with a waterproof cover before he or she showers. Your child's healthcare provider may instead tell you to place a plastic bag or wrap over the catheter. Tell your child to keep the catheter out of water as much as possible. Do not let your child swim or take a bath. These actions can cause germs to get into the catheter.
  • Check your child's catheter every day for signs of infection. Look for redness, swelling, pus, or fluid. Report any pain at the insertion site or signs of infection to your child's healthcare provider right away. A fever may also be a sign of infection.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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