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Orthopedic Patient Education Materials

Cast Care Instructions

What’s it made of?
The cast is made of a rigid fiberglass or plaster material. It is not delicate nor is it indestructible. The padding and lining is usually made of cotton for skin protection. This material is not waterproof and should be protected from water (rain, bath/shower, pool etc.). Sometimes, a special Gore-Tex lining material can be used which makes the cast waterproof.

What if it gets wet?

Keep your cast as dry as possible to prevent skin irritation and odor. The inside of the cast should be dried with a hair drier (cool setting) in the morning, evening, after bathing or exercise, and additionally as often as you like – this will help prevent itching and reduce skin irritation. When bathing or showering, cover the cast with a plastic bag (or saran wrap, in a pinch). Hold your hand up in the shower so that water does not run down inside the cast. If your cast does get wet, towel blot the cast, then use a blow dryer (cool setting) until it is completely dry. If the cast becomes smelly or really itchy after it got wet and feels soggy, it may need to be changed. Please contact our office.

 

What if my cast doesn’t fit right?

Some swelling is normal after an injury. To reduce swelling, keep your cast elevated above heart or waist level, as much as possible, for the first 48 to 72 hours. You can also apply ice (put ice in a sealed, plastic bag) to the area of injury. Do not trim or re-shape your cast. The cast has been custom designed to provide maximum support during healing. Cutting or altering the cast may lengthen your recovery time. If the padding has shifted and the edge of the cast rubs against your skin, you may be able to pad it with moleskin (available from our office or in the foot care section of any drugstore). However, if the cast feels as though it is too tight or is consistently irritating your skin, please contact our office.

What if the skin inside my cast itches?

Almost every cast itches at some time, but… NEVER insert anything under your cast to scratch an itch as you could cause severe skin injury leading to infection. Avoid getting dirt or other foreign particles under your cast. Do not put talcum powder or cornstarch inside the cast – these may also start a skin infection. The best treatment is to dry the inside of the cast with a hair dryer on a cool setting.

If any of these problems occur, contact our office immediately:

  • Cast becomes uncomfortably loose (it is normal to be able to insert one to two fingers easily under the near edge of the cast).
  • Cast becomes uncomfortably snug or tight.
  • Consistent cast irritation unrelieved with moleskin or above comfort measures.
  • Fingers or toes become swollen, numb or tingly, difficult to move, or become cool or discolored (bluish or whitish tinge).
  • Moderate discomfort develops into severe or constant pain, unrelieved by elevation of the affected part.

It is important to follow your doctors weight bearing/lifting restrictions and activity precautions.A cast is not always a fun thing to have, but if you follow a few simple steps, it can be easy to care for.

 

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