Indwelling Urinary Catheter Care

Indwelling Urinary Catheter Care Instructions

An indwelling urinary catheter is a thin tube that is put into your bladder. The tube helps to drain pee (urine) out of your body. The tube goes in through your urethra. Your urethra is where pee comes out of your body. Your pee will come out through the catheter, then it will go into a bag (drainage bag).

Take good care of your catheter so it will work well.

How to wear your catheter and bag

Supplies needed

  • Sticky tape (adhesive tape) or a leg strap.
  • Alcohol wipe or soap and water (if you use tape).
  • A clean towel (if you use tape).
  • Large overnight bag.
  • Smaller bag (leg bag).

Wearing your catheter

Attach your catheter to your leg with tape or a leg strap.

  • Make sure the catheter is not pulled tight.
  • If a leg strap gets wet, take it off and put on a dry strap.
  • If you use tape to hold the bag on your leg:
    • Use an alcohol wipe or soap and water to wash your skin where the tape made it sticky before.
    • Use a clean towel to pat-dry that skin.
    • Use new tape to make the bag stay on your leg.

Wearing your bags

You should have been given a large overnight bag.

  • You may wear the overnight bag in the day or night.
  • Always have the overnight bag lower than your bladder. Do not let the bag touch the floor.
  • Before you go to sleep, put a clean plastic bag in a wastebasket. Then hang the overnight bag inside the wastebasket.

You should also have a smaller leg bag that fits under your clothes.

  • Always wear the leg bag below your knee.
  • Do not wear your leg bag at night.

How to care for your skin and catheter

Supplies needed

  • A clean washcloth.
  • Water and mild soap.
  • A clean towel.

Caring for your skin and catheter

  • Clean the skin around your catheter every day:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water.
    • Wet a clean washcloth in warm water and mild soap.
    • Clean the skin around your urethra.
      • If you are female:
        • Gently spread the folds of skin around your vagina (labia).
        • With the washcloth in your other hand, wipe the inner side of your labia on each side. Wipe from front to back.
      • If you are male:
        • Pull back any skin that covers the end of your penis (foreskin).
        • With the washcloth in your other hand, wipe your penis in small circles. Start wiping at the tip of your penis, then move away from the catheter.
    • With your free hand, hold the catheter close to where it goes into your body.
      • Keep holding the catheter during cleaning so it does not get pulled out.
    • With the washcloth in your other hand, clean the catheter.
      • Only wipe downward on the catheter.
      • Do not wipe upward toward your body. Doing this may push germs into your urethra and cause infection.
    • Use a clean towel to pat-dry the catheter and the skin around it. Make sure to wipe off all soap.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Shower every day. Do not take baths.
  • Do not use cream, ointment, or lotion on the area where the catheter goes into your body, unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not use powders, sprays, or lotions on your genital area.
  • Check your skin around the catheter every day for signs of infection. Check for:
    • Redness, swelling, or pain.
    • Fluid or blood.
    • Warmth.
    • Pus or a bad smell.

How to empty the bag

Supplies needed

  • Rubbing alcohol.
  • Gauze pad or cotton ball.
  • Tape or a leg strap.

Emptying the bag

Pour the pee out of your bag when it is ⅓–½ full, or at least 2–3 times a day. Do this for your overnight bag and your leg bag. Do not clean your bags unless your doctor tells you to.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Separate (detach) the bag from your leg.
  3. Hold the bag over the toilet or a clean pail. Keep the bag lower than your hips and bladder. This is so the pee (urine) does not go back into the tube.
  4. Open the pour spout. It is at the bottom of the bag.
  5. Empty the pee into the toilet or pail. Do not let the pour spout touch any surface.
  6. Put rubbing alcohol on a gauze pad or cotton ball.
  7. Use the gauze pad or cotton ball to clean the pour spout.
  8. Close the pour spout.
  9. Attach the bag to your leg with tape or a leg strap.
  10. Wash your hands with soap and water.

How to change the bag

Supplies needed

  • Alcohol wipes.
  • A clean bag.
  • Tape or a leg strap.

Changing the bag

Replace your bag with a clean bag once a month. If it starts to leak, smell bad, or look dirty, change it sooner.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Separate the dirty bag from your leg.
  3. Pinch the catheter with your fingers so that pee does not spill out.
  4. Separate the catheter tube from the bag tube where these tubes connect (at the connection valve). Do not let the tubes touch any surface.
  5. Clean the end of the catheter tube with an alcohol wipe. Use a different alcohol wipe to clean the end of the bag tube.
  6. Connect the catheter tube to the tube of the clean bag.
  7. Attach the clean bag to your leg with tape or a leg strap. Do not make the bag tight on your leg.
  8. Wash your hands with soap and water.

General rules

  • Never pull on your catheter. Never try to take it out. Doing that can hurt you.
  • Always wash your hands before and after you touch your catheter or bag. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap. If you do not have soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
  • Always make sure there are no twists or bends (kinks) in the catheter tube.
  • Always make sure there are no leaks in the catheter or bag.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee pale yellow.
  • Do not take baths, swim, or use a hot tub.
  • If you are female, wipe from front to back after you poop (have a bowel movement).

Contact a doctor if:

  • Your pee is cloudy.
  • Your pee smells worse than usual.
  • Your catheter gets clogged.
  • Your catheter leaks.
  • Your bladder feels full.

Get help right away if:

  • You have redness, swelling, or pain where the catheter goes into your body.
  • You have fluid, blood, pus, or a bad smell coming from the area where the catheter goes into your body.
  • Your skin feels warm where the catheter goes into your body.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have pain in your:
    • Belly (abdomen).
    • Legs.
    • Lower back.
    • Bladder.
  • You see blood in the catheter.
  • Your pee is pink or red.
  • You feel sick to your stomach (nauseous).
  • You throw up (vomit).
  • You have chills.
  • Your pee is not draining into the bag.
  • Your catheter gets pulled out.

Summary

  • An indwelling urinary catheter is a thin tube that is placed into the bladder to help drain pee (urine) out of the body.
  • The catheter is placed into the part of the body that drains pee from the bladder (urethra).
  • Taking good care of your catheter will keep it working properly and help prevent problems.
  • Always wash your hands before and after touching your catheter or bag.
  • Never pull on your catheter or try to take it out.

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