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How To Make Him Stop Picking at a Wound

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As a reminder, I am not a physician.  You should not substitute my opinion for your own judgment.  But I do love these questions.  They clearly demonstrate that these issues are complex problems with shifting dynamics and no easy answer.  Yet for all their individual nuances, they are nearly universal.


I would like to ask your advice.  This wonderful woman has been caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s for many years. He is 83 years old, but she keeps him very active, and he is still quite mobile, although his dementia is pretty advanced.  He recently had surgery for skin cancer on the top of his head. They are trying to keep the wound unbandaged, but he has been picking at it to the point that they have had to return to the doctors and hospital several times.  

She does not want to put gloves on him because it agitates him and he just keeps working to take them off.  She was wondering about the possibility of of some type of perforated raised protection she could tape over the wound that would allow air but that the husband could not remove. Would you have any suggestions?

I have a couple of ideas:

1.  Use a a semi-permeable hydrocolloid dressing…they breathe and are sealed.  They are harder to pick off.  Aquacel is one brand, but it is expensive.  There are generic versions that are cheaper.

2.  There may be a way to “confuse” his sensory system by putting other bandaids on hard to reach spots, like his back and/or chest.  He may spend some time picking at those more harmless locations and not be able to localize the sensation on his head.  That may sound a little far fetched, but sometimes overloading the system desensitizes it a little bit.  It’s kinda of like deploying decoys to redirect his attention away from his head.  It’s harder to localize a sensation in the presence of multiple sensory input sites.

Please let me know if any of these suggestions work, or if you find a solution that could help others.  Thanks!



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