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Holiday Travel with Your Wound: The Inconvenient Guest

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Holidays are a hectic time of year.  You are scrambling to find the perfect gifts, make travel plans, cook, clean, decorate, etc.  Wounds are so inconvenient to a patient’s lifestyle, adding one more stressor to the holidays.  It’s important for patients to keep their wounds discreet so as not to draw attention to them during time with loved ones.  It can be embarrassing and even become a source of depression in some patients.  Some patients need to travel or modify their typical wound routines during this time.  As a patient or as a clinician, here are a few things to consider. 

  • Bring alternative dressings with you in the event that you need to change it or cannot use your normal dressings for any reason.
  • If you have a medical device, carry your prescription or a note from your prescriber for the device in case you will need it for security (TSA).
  • Find out if there are any issues of flying with your medical device from the manufacturer.
  • If you require help with dressing changes, ask one family member or friend if they are available to help you ahead of time.  Schedule changes with them.
  • Bring gloves, gauze and normal saline with you to clean the wound.  These are available in any drug store.
  • Don’t forget to pack pain control (ibuprofen, Tylenol, topicals, etc.) to help you before dressing changes if they are painful. 
  • If you are self-conscious about your wound, ask your provider for discreet dressing options for the holidays. 
  • If you are flying and wear compression, let your therapist know.  The increased pressure of the cabin inflight can cause more compression or swelling.
  • If flying or traveling by bus or train, consider an aisle seat so that you may get to the bathroom easier and for a little more room should you need it.  Try to let the flight attendant know you have a wound and may need to sit near the front or rear of the plane for this reason. 
  • You may need extra assistance getting to your seat and with your baggage.
  • Ensure clean techniques when changing dressing.  Remember that your skin is your best defense against infection.  Keep this in mind as you travel and protect your open wound with an occlusive dressing option.
  • Discuss any travel concerns with your health care provider.  Ask for a way to contact them in an emergent situation while you are away.

Enjoy your holidays and don’t let your wound be the Grinch!

This blog post was written by Cyndi Gilliam, BSN, RN, FACCWS  – EO2 Director of Clinical Affairs

What do her credentials mean? Cyndi is a Registered Nurse who has practiced as a wound care nurse for 12 years. FACCWS is a Fellow of the American College of Certified Wound Specialists.