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How to Shower with an Immobilizing Back Brace

Wearing a wet back brace can cause skin irritation!

Immobilizing back braces come in many varieties, depending on the individual situation. Often, they have to be worn for up to ten to twelve weeks, which presents a challenge when it comes to keeping clean. Rigid, plastic back braces have straps and inner, padded liners that can easily get soaked with water in the shower. Your medical practitioner will let you know when you are allowed to start taking showers, and you may be able to temporarily remove the brace in order to bathe, but equally, you might be told that you have to wear it full time until you are completely healed.

If you do have to keep it on, how do you prevent the padding getting so wet that it can't get properly dry? A wet liner can rub against your skin, causing sore areas; it can also become unhygienic through being constantly damp.

If at all possible, purchase one or two spare liners so that the wet one can get completely dry before being used again. The brace straps can be dried with a hair dryer set on a cool setting. Your doctor may agree to you wearing a special shower brace whenever you need to bathe.

It's a good idea to have a shower chair in the shower enclosure, for balance, or to lay a non-skid rubber mat on the base of the shower, to prevent slipping. You may find that it is easier to control where the water falls if you use a handheld showerhead.

If you wear a t-shirt under the brace to protect your skin and absorb sweat, before you shower, remove the brace according to instructions and take off the t-shirt. Put the brace back on before getting into the shower. Afterwards, remove the brace, make sure that your skin is completely dry (some talcum powder can help) and put on a clean, dry t-shirt. Make sure that your brace is clean. You can use rubbing alcohol to remove all traces of bacteria and soap (which can irritate your skin) from the inside of the brace. Dry the brace thoroughly before putting it back on.

Another option is to cover the brace with something waterproof. People have experimented with several methods. One that is not totally effective but that will keep the worst of the water away from the padding is to use a plastic garbage bag. Cut it open, wrap it around so that it completely covers the brace, and seal the edges with waterproof masking tape.

Although challenging, showering with an immobilizing back brace is possible. Just remember, after showering, to keep your skin, t-shirt, liner, and brace as dry as you can. That way you will minimize any irritation to your skin.