It is not uncommon for patients to be discharged from the hospital before their wounds are fully healed. That said, your surgeon should let you know of the proper post-operative skincare, which includes ways to wash a surgical incision. In this way, you can minimize the chances of getting infected as you heal.
As for the best soap to use after surgery, you will find plenty of options in the market. Before you buy, make sure to check the following:
- Ingredients: Let’s face it: We don’t normally care about soap ingredients, but it’s a different case when you’re going under the knife. Not all soaps can make our skin clean enough for surgery. Your doctor will give you pre and post-operative instructions, including recommending special surgical soap. Chlorhexidine gluconate is the most common choice but there are other alternatives as well.
- Fragrance: Fragrance is known for irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin. The same can be said on harmed skin so your physician may instruct you to use fragrance-free soaps. That said, do not confuse this with “unscented.” “Fragrance-free” means that no synthetic or natural fragrant materials were added to the product. “Unscented” means that the product does not have a smell but there is a possibility that it contains ingredients to mask the odor.
- Bottled vs. Bar: The format of the soap or bottle design may not be a big deal, except for instances wherein you can only use one hand. For instance, if you have shoulder surgery, a pump bottle can make showering a whole lot easier. Some liquid soap bottles are hard to squeeze, which can be difficult if you have stitches on your arm.
In this article, I will discuss ten soaps, as well as the pros and cons of each product to give you a better idea of how they work. Always remember, doctors are the best resource persons to consult. Be sure to get their approval before you buy antibacterial soap after surgery.
10 Most Effective Soap to Use After Surgery
1. Hibiclens ND-MOL57532 Antiseptic Skin Cleanser
Anyone who went under the knife before has probably heard of Hibiclens for wound care. As a chlorhexidine gluconate solution, this antiseptic skin cleanser is trusted by medical professionals. Intended for the whole body, it is commonly used for bathing before and after surgery. For smaller wounds, I only need a small amount to cover the area.
Outside the medical setting, my family and I can also wash our hands with this soap to protect ourselves from a wide range of germs, bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fungi. Yet, it is extremely gentle to the skin!
While this soap binds to the skin, I noticed that it rinses off well without leaving nasty residue. A staple for post-surgery care ensures that the incision does not get infected. Plus, it is very easy to use!
- Can be used for wounds or showering
- Prevents incision from getting infected
- Rinses off without residue
- Trusted by healthcare professionals
- Kills germs, bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fung
- Needs a pump
- On the pricey side
A gold standard for pre and post-surgery care, this antiseptic skin cleanser is your best defense against various germs, bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses. No doubt, it can prevent your incision from getting infected.
2. Dial I0002486 Antibacterial Deodorant Bar Soap
Whether days prior or after incision, your doctor would probably recommend you this good ol’ Dial antibacterial body soap for surgery. It’s a good alternative for those who are allergic to chlorhexidine. The fact that you can use it for daily showering, handwashing, or after getting tattoos makes it quite versatile.
I love this the most because it can kill odor-causing bacteria and its effect can last all day. In other words, I don’t smell bad even as I sweat at work for long hours! Aside from helping me clean myself, I love that this bar soap keeps my skin well-hydrated and moisturized.
Showering after surgery, I was treated to a subtle yet pleasant smell. Not to mention, it is suitable for sensitive skin!
- Apt for those allergic to chlorhexidine
- Versatile antibacterial soap
- Affordable pre and post-surgery soap
- Gets rid of odor-causing bacteria
- Keeps skin well-hydrated
- Good for sensitive skin
- One bar does not last long
- Can stain the soap dish
If you’re looking for an alternative to chlorhexidine gluconate, then this soap will do. Besides helping you prepare for surgery, it can also keep your skin hydrated and free from odor.
3. Rite Aid Antiseptic Skin Cleanser
Normally, healthcare professionals use this chlorhexidine gluconate before surgery or when caring for patients. However, the brand also recommends it for personal use. Because it is dye-free, it is quite gentle, especially for those with sensitive skin.
Aside from that, I know people who massage this on their piercings to keep them clean. Meanwhile, some folks found it helpful in eliminating body odor.
Like other antibacterial and antimicrobial skin cleansers, I assure you that this one can clear away disease-causing bacteria. Moreover, it curbs surgical site infection. On top of that, it works well with saline, alcohol, and antiseptic sprays. Hence, it’s a great addition to my wound care after-surgery kit. But for me, the best part is that it has no medicinal scent that you often smell in hospitals.
- Can avert surgery-related infection
- Excellent for sensitive skin
- Kills odor and disease-causing bacteria
- No medicinal smell
- Affordable chlorhexidine gluconate
- The plunger is prone to breakage
Rite Aid offers chlorhexidine gluconate at an affordable price that works effectively as any other name brand. Besides cleansing your post-surgery wound, it can also help eliminate body odor. Apt for sensitive skin, you can be sure that it will not irritate some greedy people.
4. Defense Soap All Natural Bar Soap
Free from additional fragrances, dyes, and other potentially irritating ingredients, the Defense Soap was crafted by a wrestling coach. Initially, it was intended to address a skin infection among his wrestlers.
Today, it is widely used by many professional athletes, gym buffs, and regular folks like you and me. Well, it’s mainly because the soap can safely resolve ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and even acne. Even better, it works on sensitive skin and eczema.
Two of its ingredients are tea tree and eucalyptus oil, promoting wound healing apart from washing away bacteria and fungi. While it comes in three different scents, they generally smell pleasant but not overpowering.
Personally, I like to use it as an everyday soap because of its rich lather. I would step out of the shower feeling squeaky clean and fresh. After all, it penetrates deep into the pores to remove grimes, dirt, dead skin cells, and excess sebum. More than that, it helps get rid of the odor.
- Helps resolve skin infection
- Does not harm sensitive skin
- Promotes wound healing
- Deeply cleanses the skin
- Recommended for athletes
- Can leave the skin dry
- Expensive for a bar soap
Whether you’re into contact sports or simply recovering from surgery, you can give this soap a try. Made with natural ingredients, its formula does not contain skin irritants, making it safe for sensitive skin.
5. Truremedy Naturals GN-R9BG-KFJ4 Remedy Soap
Tea tree oil is best known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that can facilitate proper wound healing. It is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, which helped a lot when I was caring for my surgery scars. Combined with other oils like peppermint and eucalyptus, this soap can also help with skin irritations.
I could list down all the natural ingredients this soap contains but let me just highlight what is important. Apart from its cruelty-free formula, it has no parabens, synthetic fragrances, preservatives, sulfate, and other chemicals that may irritate harmed skin.
For gym-goers, this soap offers plenty of advantages. Firstly, it soothes the jock itch and athlete’s foot. Secondly, it also eliminates body and foot odor. That said, I must say that it is very gentle to use for everyday showers. I especially love that it helps me manage acne breakouts. Since it is moisturizing, it fixes my cracked and dry feet as well. Some people also use this for their eczema.
- Boosts wound healing
- All-natural cruelty-free soap
- Soothes various skin conditions
- Moisturizes the skin
- Gets rid of body and foot odor
- Hard to squeeze out the soap
- Expensive for its quantity
With powerful natural ingredients, this body wash can address a wide array of skin conditions. Since it contains tea tree oil, it can also enhance natural healing and help you care for your surgery scars.
6. VITA VIE Antibacterial Body Wash
We all know that a typical antibacterial body wash for surgery smells like a hospital, but this one doesn’t. Admittedly, I did not realize that this product is appropriate for pre and post-surgery showers since I have been using this as an everyday bath soap for quite some time.
Nothing beats lathering it on my skin and smelling its fresh scent of lemon while in the shower. Its moisturizing formula is one of the reasons why it has instantly become my favorite.
While it does not contain harmful chemicals, I’m amazed that the soap can eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and germs that cause diseases, as well as skin irritations and infections. Moreover, it is suitable for both kids and adults. Just so you know, it is offered in 350 ml and 1.8-liter for those who want to stock up. Either way, it is super affordable!
- Affordable body wash for incision
- Helps prevent skin infections
- Has a pleasant lemony scent
- Available in small and big containers
- Free from harmful chemicals
- Suitable for kids and adults
- Cannot be used as a facial wash
- Does not have a plunger
So far, this soap checks all the boxes in my criteria. Besides its all-natural ingredients, It is affordable, gentle, and capable of fighting germs and bacteria. Is this the top-rated antibacterial soap to use after surgery? I will leave it up to you to decide!
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7. Derma-nu Miracle Skin Remedies Antifungal Therapeutic Soap
As the product name suggests, this soap is antifungal. In other words, it can handle athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, yeast infections, and nail fungus. Many people claim that it has significantly decreased itching and I can attest to that.
What I think will be relevant to those who have just gotten surgery is that this soap has tea tree oil. Previously, I mentioned that this particular ingredient helps heal wounds. When combined with oregano, however, the soap’s antiviral and antiparasitic becomes more potent.
To top it off, this soap is also antibacterial. In this way, I can keep my incision from getting infected. Alongside the mint, the body wash can also get rid of body odor and manage breakouts. Meanwhile, peppermint, eucalyptus, spearmint, menthol, and wintergreen are also found in this soap.
- Soothes irritated skin
- Tackles fungal infections
- Made of vegan ingredients
- Resolves body odor
- Appropriate for all skin types
- Recommended for athletes
- The soap is pricy
- May cause drying
More than just an antibacterial body wash after surgery, this product offers plenty of benefits. Besides resolving fungal infections, it can soothe itchiness and fix odor issues. Not to mention, its vegan formula is suitable for all skin types.
8. CeraVe TAZ3890 Hydrating Cleanser Bar
Our skin can feel extra-sensitive when we have wounds due to injury or operation, which is why mild soaps like CeraVe are recommended. It is high on my list both as a facial, hand, and body soap mainly because it’s very gentle and free from fragrance and parabens.
Its main ingredients include three essential ceramides that help restore the skin’s natural protective barrier. Furthermore, it is capable of locking in moisture while keeping out impurities.
I know many of us like rich lather partly because most commercial soaps behave that way and we’re used to it. This one, however, has a light foam. Despite that, it can cleanse deeply without removing the natural moisture.
Consequently, my skin feels more soft and supple. Developed by the manufacturer and dermatologists, this cleanser bar can also work as a make-up remover. As such, it manages to reduce acne, eczema, and other skin problems.
- No fragrance and parabens
- Restores skin’s natural protective barrier
- Hydrates the skin
- Works as facial, hand, and body wash
- Treats many skin problems
- Good for sensitive skin
- Has a subtle old perfume smell
Even though this body cleanser is versatile, it does so well whether I use it on my face, hands, or body. Safe to use on harmed skin, its formula is free from potential irritants like parabens and fragrance.
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9. SheaMoisture U-BB-2692 Bar Soap for Troubled Skin
Granted, SheaMoisture’s bar soap may not be the first product that would come to mind when caring for incisions because it is shelved in facial and body washes.
Still, it contains tea tree oil, aloe vera, and tamarind extract to support proper healing. That said, let me emphasize that tea tree oil alone has antibacterial properties that decrease wound healing time.
In the context of skincare, the ingredients offer several benefits, one of which is treating and managing cystic acne. Aloe vera, for instance, moisturizes dry and sensitive skin, while tamarind extract exfoliates.
Alongside oats, this soap can absorb excess oil while soothing irritation. Apart from cleansing, it leaves my face and body soft, smooth, and supple. Stepping out of the shower does not only feel fresh.
- Superb wound-healing properties
- For regular shower and post-surgery
- Can treat cystic acne
- Leaves the skin soft and smooth
- Bigger than the standard soap
- Has overpowering scent
- It may not be compatible for some people
All in all, I think this soap is pretty decent. Crafted with powerful ingredients, it can accelerate the wound healing process and treat skin conditions. Its chunky size can last long enough for you to see the results.
10. DAILY REMEDY Detox Soap
Available in five different scents, this detox soap contains tea tree oil, one of the key ingredients known for fast-tracking the wound’s healing.
With a pH level between 5 and 6, it is considered mild. That’s because it is the closest to natural neutral skin pH. Therefore, it comes in handy for recovering patients who need to practice post-surgery care.
Formulated for deep cleansing, the brand claims that it can eliminate toxins and wash away impurities. As such, it ensures that my wound will be clean to prevent infection. When I use this to shower, I find the soap very moisturizing. By the way, this soap is vegan-approved and is made of natural ingredients. Moreover, it was developed without testing it on animals!
Showering with this body wash feels relaxing and refreshing. Its scent is super delightful. So much so that I would say that it gives me a spa-like treatment after a long day at work. Even better, its bottle has a pump, thereby allowing me to draw out just enough liquid soap. This is super convenient for those who have trouble showering with one hand after surgery.
- Has tea tree oil to facilitate healing
- Close to natural neutral skin pH
- Formulate with natural ingredients
- Emits a delightful scent
- Comes in a pump bottle
- Gel-like consistency
Developed with a mild formula, this body wash can cleanse the toxins and impurities away to protect your incision against infection. Since it comes with a pump bottle, you don’t have to worry about spillage!
What to Look for When Buying Soaps to Use After Surgery
Like many everyday items, we take soap for granted. As long as we don’t get allergic reactions, we continue to purchase and use the product for showering. Once you factor in surgical wounds, you will need to consider your doctor’s recommendation and learn about the product’s ingredients. If you are buying surgery for the first time or looking for alternatives, let me share some tips:
Believe it or not, some greedy people want to make quick bucks by scamming customers with fake medical and skincare products. Be vigilant and make sure that the antibacterial body wash after surgery you are buying is authentic. In this day and age, even the “FDA approved” seal can be easily photoshopped onto the product’s packaging.
You can avoid counterfeit products by purchasing directly from a known brand or a reputable distributor. If you are buying online, check for reviews on the website and scrutinize the product images, including the user-uploaded ones.
Admittedly, Hibiclens shocked me with its price, but I still bought it knowing its quality is superior. That said, getting surgery can be very expensive when it’s not covered by insurance. If you want to cut costs elsewhere, you can find plenty of affordable options. Rest assured, these alternatives are just as effective in ensuring that your incision will never be infected.
Many people would say that they wish the soap would lather more. Truly, a rich lather makes showering more fun and refreshing. Bubbles are visual cues that tell us we are washing our bodies. Furthermore, advertisers have used foam to add cinematic value to their commercials. However, certain ingredients produce smaller bubbles, but that does not mean that they cannot cleanse your skin. The lesson here is that don’t judge the soap by its lather!
The last thing you want is to complicate your surgery care further with allergies or other forms of irritations. Although the soaps I featured are generally safe to use, we cannot completely rule out the possibility of skin reactions. Hence, make it a habit to read the soap’s label before buying. This way, you can learn what each ingredient does and foresee any allergic reactions if there are any. Otherwise, you can also patch-test the soap or body cleanser first.
Most of the soaps I reviewed can be used for various purposes. Whether it’s prepping for surgery, cleaning a wound, regular showering, treating acne, or washing after playing sports.
Regardless, you need to ensure that the soap you are buying is compatible with your skin type if you intend to use it on your face and body. Oily skin has different needs compared to those who have dry skin. Most of the time, people will have to go through a series of trials and errors before they find the right one.
How Do You Clean a Surgical Incision
Before you begin, gather all the supplies needed to wash your incision. Prepare your gauze pads, medical gloves, surgical tape, plastic bag, and scissors.
- Step 1: Always make it a point to practice a good handwashing technique with antibacterial soap. You can use any mild antibacterial soap of your choice or Hibiclens after surgery. Washing your hands quickly with water is not enough to protect your wound from infection. After drying your hands, put on your medical gloves. Remove the tape around the old dressing.
- Step 2: Check the wound for any signs of infection. This includes worsened pain, swelling, bleeding, pus, increased drainage, and bad smell. You may also notice that your wounds are getting bigger and deeper. Another sign is that you have a fever for more than four hours. If you have any of these signs, call your doctor. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
- Step 3: Wash the incision with antibacterial soap and water to remove the crust. Avoid scrubbing or soaking your wound. Likewise, refrain from using rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and iodine as these will harm your wound.
- Step 4: Before reapplying the dressing, allow the affected area to air dry or pat it dry with a clean towel. Next, hold the sterile gauze pad at the corner and place it over the wound then securely tape all sides.
- Step 5: Throw all the trash in the plastic bag, then remove your gloves. Make sure that the plastic bag is sealed before throwing it away, then wash your hands.
Note that the direction above is a more general approach. Your physician may have specific instructions on how to shower after surgery, glue, or clean your incision.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Helps Skin Heal Faster After Surgery
Recovery can take weeks or months but keeping your surgical wounds dressed promotes faster healing. Thus, it is important to change the dressings quickly so that the wounds are not exposed to the air or soaked in water for too long.
Eating nutritious foods is crucial to wound healing. Vitamin C, for instance, is necessary for our bodies to make collagen. Furthermore, be sure to manage medical conditions like diabetes. Avoid smoking and drugs that can mess up the natural healing process. Your physician can give you a list of the medicines to temporarily avoid.
Although regular exercise can increase blood flow, your doctor may tell you to refrain from working out or going back to work until you recover.
Can I Use Dove Soap After Surgery
Yes, you can use Dove soap after surgery. You can also opt for the Care & Protect Antibacterial Beauty Bar variant. According to the brand’s website, it can wash away 99% of bacteria during a 20-second wash test against E. coli.
Where Can I Buy Soap to Use After Surgery
The good news is that you can buy chlorhexidine gluconate like Hibiclens and Rite Aid over the counter in many drug stores, groceries, and retail outlets. In other words, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription. Usually, they are shelved in the first aid section.
Meanwhile, regular bath soaps like Dial can be found in the skincare or bath section. Alternatively, you can check e-commerce sites or the brand’s website.
Surgery can be overwhelming. If we do our part in learning how to care for our wounds and follow the doctor’s instructions, we can lower the risk of infection, and therefore, make the whole process less stressful.
That said, let me reiterate that we cannot use just about any soap that we have at home. Unless, of course, you are already using a brand that I included in the review of the best soap to use after surgery. When in doubt, consult your doctor.