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Pin Care

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What are pins?

Pins are metal pieces that hold your bones in place while you heal after surgery. Sometimes pins stick out of your skin until the bones have healed. This is called the pin site. Pins are usually removed after the bones have healed.

What is pin care?

Pin care is how to clean the pin and the skin around the pin. Pin care is important because the pin is a direct route to your bone. This increases your risk for infection. An infection can make you very sick and delay bone healing after surgery.

What supplies do I need?

You will need a cup, several cotton swabs, and cleaning solution. There are many kinds of cleaning solutions. Use the cleaning solution your surgeon recommends. One common cleaning solution is a mix of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and normal saline. For example, ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide and ¼ cup saline. Another common solution is equal parts saline and antimicrobial soap. You may keep this solution for 24 hours. Write down the date and time it is mixed.

What are the steps for pin care?

You may need to do pin care 1 to 3 times a day, as directed by your surgeon. Follow your surgeon's directions on how to clean your pin site. Wash and dry your hands before and after pin care. You may need to do the following:

  • Mix the cleaning solution. Use a clean, moistened swab for each pin site.
  • Start at the pin site and move outward using one swipe. Throw the swab away.
  • Pick up and moisten a new, clean swab. Start at the pin site and move outward using one swipe. Throw the swab away.
  • Repeat this process until you have made a complete circle around the pin site. You will use a lot of cotton swabs.
  • Gently remove any crusty skin or scabs with the swab, if directed to by your surgeon.
  • Follow the same process with the pin itself. Start at the pin site and move along the pin, away from your skin.
  • Repeat until you have cleaned the pin.

What else do I need to know about pin care?

  • Do not put ointment or cream on the area unless your surgeon says it is okay.
  • Ask your surgeon when you can shower.

When should I call my surgeon?

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your pin site is red, swollen, warm or hot, or draining pus.
  • You have increased pain at the pin site or a bad smell.
  • You have numbness or tingling at the pin site.
  • Your pin moves or is loose.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.