Washing patient's hair!!!

Nurses General Nursing



I wonder if anyone out there has any good tips on how to wash an immobile patient's hair in bed?

I really struggle.

Thanks! :)

Specializes in ED/ICU/TELEMETRY/LTC.

See if you can get managment to invest in something like this:


Specializes in Trauma Surgical ICU.

We do it with a portable wash basin, a large one just for heads.. We use any container to wet and then rinse. Of course the sheets still get wet so we wait til after we are done before we change them :)

I work in ICU. I always keep a small bottle of real shampoo in my work bag.

First I pad around the patients' head with towels and chux.

I dilute the shampoo in warm water and work some into the patient's hair. Don't make the shampoo concentrated, or it will be difficult to wash out. I rinse with a cup of warm water. I have towels right nearby to absorb most of the water so there is no puddling of water and wetting the bedlinens.

Comb out the hair, dry with a towel and leave a dry towel over the pillow until the hair drys.

I don't like shampoo caps since they don't leave hair clean enough.

The hair I am most likely to wash is short fine textured straight hair since that is the type to look greasy the quickest.

Specializes in CICU.

We have the caps that you can heat up - doesn't need a rinse. We also have the little bottles of no rinse shampoo.

Not quite as good as a real shampoo, but it takes care of the greasies and makes folks feel a little better.

One of the ladies I work with actually turns the bed so the patients head is lined up with the sink, boosts the patient so head is off bed and in sink, and washes hair in sink. Its great but the patient has to be alert and strong enough to support their own head and neck since they are hanging over the end of the bed into the sink.

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Trauma Rapid Response.

I just opened this discussion to see what was so important about the subject line to merit three exlamations points. As I suspect nothing at all.

Specializes in Med/Surg Tele.

I am a nurse, and now a patient this week. Trust me - the difference a shower/bath/hair washing makes in how you feel DOES merit three exclamation points. KUDOS to the OP for bringing this up!

Specializes in long term care, alzheimer's, ltc rehab.

i started working in an ltach last month, and we use the sage shampoo caps and comfort bath systems. they work great on our immobile patients because they stay warm the whole time. for the ones that are able we give showers.


I just opened this discussion to see what was so important about the subject line to merit three exlamations points. As I suspect nothing at all.

Yeah what was the point of this reply? Just to prove you're nasty? Would you treat people in person like this? I find it funny how people on message boards think they can say whatever they want because they are essentially anonymous.. Also, really, if you had nothing to contribute the post was only a few sentences. I'm sure it did not waste more than 15 seconds of your day..

As for OP I have no suggestions other than those caps stink at really cleaning the hair, so I'd think actually washing with real shampoo would feel better for the pt.

I put a pillow folded in half under the patient's back so his/her head can be lifted just enough to put the basin under it. I shampoo and then rinse with warm water. You barely get the sheets wet. (Obviously, if the patient can be put in this position.) Nothing beats shampoo and water!

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty.

I wash my own hair with diluted conditioner instead of shampoo.

Harsh detergents cause the scalp's oil glands to go into hyper-production mode to replace the moisture that has been stripped, which makes the hair get greasy faster. Diluted conditioner (silicone-free, such as the Suave Naturals line of products) still has surfactants to remove oil, but is not as harsh as shampoo, so the hair gets cleaned without the scalp being stripped. And an un-stripped scalp doesn't produce replacement oil as quickly, so you can go longer between washes -- a win/win situation!

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