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I had a biopsy right in the center of my upper back and have been told to do the following daily:

  • gently clean the site with soap and water (no scrubbing)
  • apply Vaseline
  • cover it with a band-aid

However, it's really difficult for me to reach and I don't have anyone to ask for help. I think I might be able to apply Vaseline with a clean spatula, but I'm not sure how I can effectively clean the wound or get a band-aid on with any precision.

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I am assuming that you can’t reach the wound.

Before you remove the old bandage1, find a door frame or some other vertical outward corner. Mark the height of your wound by gently(!) leaning on it - even if you can’t reach the actual wound, you should be able to reach back far enough to determine the height with reasonable precision, add some kind of removable marker. Also, if your wound is slightly off-center, note where the vertical edge touches your back. No need to hurry, take your time.

To clean your wound, you can use a towel as an “extended washcloth”: Wet the center and gently maneuver it across the wound or, if that’s too harsh, flip it over your shoulder so that the wet part meets the wound and gently lean on a waterproof surface. Think “dabbing with your body” instead of dabbing with the cloth.

Don’t fiddle with anything to apply the ointment separately, putting the vaseline on your band-aid will get it to the right place automatically.

And now on to the band-aid: Prepare a generously sized piece (if it’s a bit bigger, it won’t matter if your not as precise in positioning it). Add the ointment on the padding of the band-aid and remove the paper from the glue strips. Go back to your door frame and fix the band-aid with a loop of tape (I recommend washi tape), sticky side outward. Use your mark to get the correct height and let the edge of the door frame meet the center of the band-aid. Like this: mounted bandage

Lean on the band-aid (remember the correct vertical position determined before!) and use the edge of the frame to push the sticky parts onto your skin. The tape used for mounting the band-aid should stick more to the smooth surface of the door frame than to the fabric of the band-aid, especially if you used washi tape.

Side note: The method works, I successfully tried it myself.


1 Will there be a second question ”How to get a band-aid off a wound I can’t reach?”...

  • This is really great, thank you. Luckily getting the band-aid off was not a problem but this helped me to clean and dress the wound again. Much easier than the contortions I was putting my shoulders through. – rocinante Dec 14 '18 at 5:17
  • @rocinante glad to hear that and I hope you’ll get better soon! – Stephie Dec 14 '18 at 5:18
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If it’s just precision you’re after, not reach (i.e. you don’t have a problem manipulating your arms to reach the spot), consider setting up 2 mirrors facing each other, at a slight angle. You need the slight angle to avoid your body fully blocking the view to your back.

Stand between the mirrors (or hold one in one hand with your back to the other mirror). This will allow you to see what you’re doing. As a bonus, by reflecting off 2 mirrors, your left/right will be the image’s left/right respectively.

  • This is helpful for seeing the spot, but unfortunately placing a band-aid with precision is still physically difficult. – rocinante Dec 14 '18 at 5:14
  • Precision comes in 2 parts: knowing where to put it, and being able to put it there. I assumed the second and helped with the first. :) – Lawrence Dec 14 '18 at 7:01
  • @rocinante By the way, you can combine this answer with the other to achieve both parts. Use the mirror(s) to help with maneuvering and the sticky tape etc to help with placement. To help with taking the bandage off, use a long-enough piece of bandage that you can easily grab at least 1 corner. – Lawrence Dec 14 '18 at 14:48

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