On the very first day of a much-anticipated beach weekend, I got a nasty puncture wound on my forearm. This was last Thursday night. I cleaned it out with hydrogen peroxide, covered it with antibiotic ointment, and checked with my doctor first thing in the morning to make sure my tetanus shot was up to date.
But what about wound care? More importantly, what about wound care at the beach and in the ocean? Despite popular assumptions that salt water is good for healing wounds, OCEAN water is not!
“When you decide to swim with your open wound in the ocean, you give a contact between your wound and this possibly-contaminated water. Besides, ocean water might contain harmful bacteria that can lead your wound to infection.”
“When you have an open wound, especially the big and deep one, its healing process might cause changes to your immunity. You can easily be infected with various kinds of viral and bacterial diseases. This is why swimming in the ocean with an open wound is not the best decision.”
I LOVE to swim in the ocean. I should probably say I love to jump through waves and hang out in the water rather than technical swimming. It’s one of my favorite things to do. This is not to say I don’t have respect for rough water, rip tides, and jelly fish. I’m not stupid.
The surf at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina this past weekend was perfect. It just doesn’t get any better for someone like me with a longing to frolic in the ocean but the upper body strength of a kitten.
What to do about my wound?
Here’s where the condoms come in. I first got this idea when I was taking care of my mom during chemo and she had a pic line (surgically inserted port) in her upper arm. One of the few things she still enjoyed was baths. So, I got some super-sized condoms, cut the reservoir end off, rolled it up over her arm, and it worked perfectly! A friend of mine got the same advice from the nurse at an infusion center.
I thought to myself, why can’t I do the same thing at the beach?! I did and it worked equally well.
As always, I have some caveats.
I’m not medically trained. Duh. My advice is anecdotal and should be taken with a grain of salt, but not salt from the ocean on an open wound.
I discovered it’s not a good idea to ask your host or hostess if they have a condom you can borrow.
If you have an allergy to latex or embarrassment, this is probably not for you.
You will need to take the following things with you to the beach:
Fresh, dry bandages
A friend (especially if your wound is on your dominant side)
A sense of humor
Remove the condom by carefully cutting it off as soon as you’re done swimming so you don’t cut off your circulation.
Keep a dry bandage over the wound while you’re on the beach cause who knows what’s in the sand! Probably used condoms.
I prefer unlubricated condoms but apparently they’re hard to find these days. I found this out after having to ask the young, male, pharmacy aid for help. Talk about embarrassing! I can just see his thought bubble, “Yeah, right, it’s for your arm…cougar!”
Anyway, the condoms worked great and I had two days of amazing swimming. And—so far—my arm is still attached to my body.
Thank you for visiting.
You are hilarious! This was great! Wish I could have witnessed the pharmacy conversation. So glad you practiced safe surf!
Thanks for sharing. Reading your blog makes me feel like we just shared a great meal, opened a second bottle of wine, and are catching up on what has flown by over the past 20 years. Hey, we should do that!
You are so very resourceful!