Tips For Showering And Washing Hair After Cataract Surgery
Never thought you would be researching how to shower and wash your hair? Well, situations change after cataract surgery. All of a sudden for the first few weeks, you have to avoid getting water in the eyes. But that mustn't prevent you from taking a shower. Or washing your hair.
Showering and washing hair after cataract surgery puts you at a higher risk of infection or additional irritation to the eyes from soaps and shampoos. But there are simple techniques which can drop this risk and allow you to safely keep yourself clean in the first few weeks after cataract surgery.
Much to the delight of everyone close to you.
Why Is This Even A Thing?
For other surgeries, it can make sense to avoid getting water in the wound. After-all, if you have an incision in your leg or abdomen, you can visibly see that it isn’t completely healed up. The surgeon likely put sutures in the incision in order to keep it together while it heals up. And if an incision isn’t fully healed up, water can seep though and potentially cause an infection.
But despite how magical cataract surgery may seem, with its quick duration and recovery, it is still a surgery. It still involves an incision (although only it’s a few millimeters). This incision must still heal up. And unlike other major operations on the body, the vast vast majority all cataract surgery incisions don’t require sutures.
So after cataract surgery, there is a risk of the incision opening up and for water to seep inside. Like any other incision elsewhere on the body, this can increase the risk of infection.
First off, it is important to avoid activities which could potentially cause that incision to open up. This includes activities that cause swings in the pressure of the eye such as heavy lifting & strenuous activity as well as bending over. But it is also important to keep the surface of the eye clean from any extra bacteria.
Bacteria risk in showers
You may be surprised to learn that showers are a risk for bacteria. In fact, your shower head may contain colonies of all sorts of unusual bacteria! Now before you stop showering for good, these bacteria don’t cause any issues unless you have certain conditions with a weakened immune system. Our skin is a pretty good barrier to bacteria; preventing bacteria from causing us an infection. (that is why breaks in the skin, such as from surgery, are important to keep clean and dry from bacteria)
But it doesn’t hurt to clean your showerhead from time to time to remove that bacteria and other gunk.
Going back to the eye, after cataract surgery you will have a small incision. And showering the right way will keep that shower bacteria from getting in the eye and potentially through that small incision.
Irritation in showers
Bacteria aren’t the only risk with showers. Showering and washing the hair involves soaps and shampoos. If you can remember back to the last time you got shampoo in the eye, you’d remember that it ain’t fun. Shampoo irritates the eye. This causes burning and general eye irritation; even after you’ve finished your shower, until the eye heals up. The soaps and detergents and the lather in shampoos are an irritant to the eye (baby shampoo is specifically made with less potent chemicals in order to be more gentle if / when it gets into the eyes).
Irritating your eyes after cataract surgery will slow down your recovery. Your eyes are already a little irritated already, why add to that?
Cataract surgery will create a little bit of inflammation on the surface of the eye. This inflammation will cause some additional dry eye or irritation of the eyes. The prescription eye drops after cataract surgery will actually add to this extra irritation (due to preservatives in the eye drops which prevent bacteria growth).
All of this will create an extra achy sensation to the eyes for the first few weeks out after cataract surgery. Using preservative free artificial tears can help the eyes recover; but avoiding situations that can irritate the eyes, such as getting shampoo or soap in the eyes, will also help.
Tips In The Shower & Washing Hair
All this doesn’t mean you should give up showering within the first few weeks after cataract surgery. Everyone close to you will appreciate if you continue to wash yourself regularly. But there are some easy ways to dramatically reduce the risk within the shower.
- Avoid showering the same day you just had cataract surgery. The cataract incision is in no way healed that quickly. And you can go one day without a shower.
- Don’t stare into the shower faucet. Hopefully this is common sense. Looking at the shower faucet will definitely get water into the eyes.
When wetting your hair, keep your eyes closed when water is splashing on your head and running over your face. Your eyelids will serves as a barrier to keeping that water out of your eyes.
- Don’t use your fingers to wipe away the water from your eyes; lightly dab your eyes with a towel instead. This avoids rubbing the eye. This also avoids water from your eyelashes dripping into your eyes. Hang a small hand-towel handy in the shower for this purpose.
- After shampooing your hair (being careful not to get the shampoo in the eyes), tilt your head backwards and allow the water to rinse the shampoo down and away from your eyes.
- If you want to reduce your worry even more, you can pick up shower shields for the eyes which will protect the eyes from water for you.
Additional thing to note: in the first few weeks after cataract surgery, it is important to avoid bending over. In the shower as you try to wash your feet, what may you instinctively do? Bend over!
Instead of bending over to wash your feet, ankles and legs, use a shower chair or stool to bring your feet to you.
With a few simple modifications to your shower routine, you can still keep your body and your hair clean without worrying about your eyes after cataract surgery. These tips will help protect your eyes from bacteria and irritating substances such as soaps and shampoos. Keeping your recovery on track.
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