Cast Care (cont.)
Taking Care of Your Cast
- Always keep the cast clean and dry.
- If the cast becomes very loose as the swelling goes down, call the doctor for an appointment, especially if the cast is rubbing against the skin.
- Cover the cast with a plastic bag or wrap the cast to bathe (and check the bag for holes before using the bag a second time). Some drug stores or medical suppliers have cast covers - plastic bags with Velcro straps or rubber gaskets to seal out water for protection during bathing.
- If a fiberglass cast gets damp, dry it (make sure it dries completely). Because a fiberglass cast allows air through it, a hairdryer on the cool setting should do the trick (do not try to dry it using a hairdryer without a cool setting - you could burn yourself). If you have any trouble getting the cast dry, call a doctor to find out if the cast needs to be replaced.
- If the cast gets wet enough that the skin gets wet under the cast, contact the doctor. If the skin is wet for a long period of time, it may break down, and infection may occur.
- Sweating enough under the cast to make it damp may cause mold or mildew to develop. Call the doctor if mold or mildew or any other odor comes from the cast.
- Do not lean on or push on the cast because it may break.
- Do not put anything inside the cast. Do not try to scratch the skin under the cast with any sharp objects; it may break the skin under the cast
and lead to an infection. Do not put any powders or lotions inside the cast.
- Do not trim the cast or break off any rough edges because this may weaken or break the cast. If a fiberglass cast has a rough edge, use a metal file to smooth it. If rough places irritate the skin, call the doctor for an adjustment.
- An arm sling may be needed for support if the cast is on the hand, wrist, arm, or elbow. Wrapping a towel or cloth around the strap that goes behind the neck can help protect the skin on the neck from becoming sore and irritated.
- If the cast is on the foot or leg, do not walk on or put any weight on the injured leg, unless the doctor allows it.
- If the doctor allows walking on the cast, be sure to wear the cast boot (if given one by the doctor). The boot is to keep the cast from wearing out on the bottom and has a tread to keep people in casts from falling.
- Crutches may be needed to walk if a cast is on the foot, ankle, or leg. Make
sure the crutches have been adjusted properly before leaving the hospital or the
doctor's office and make sure you understand and can demonstrate proper use of
Jennifer L Brown, MD, FACEP
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD