Cast Care

This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider.

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Types of Casts

A cast is used to keep a part of the body stable and immobile. This is done to prevent movement of the arm or leg so that the broken bone or injured ligaments can heal properly. Minimizing movement with a cast can also reduce pain and protect the injured body part during the healing process.
A cast is made up of two parts; an inner layer of cotton and an outer layer of hard material, which is either made of plaster or of a synthetic fiberglass.

Plaster Casts:​ These casts are heavier than fiberglass casts and are not waterproof, so they will get ruined and cause irritation to the skin if they get wet. However, plaster casts may be easier to mold than fiberglass casts when molding them onto the body, and they are also less expensive than fiberglass casts.

Fiberglass Casts:​ These casts are a type of moldable plastic, which is lighter and more breathable than plaster casts. They also come in a variety of bright colors. The fiberglass material is water-resistant but the inside padding material is not, so the cast cannot be submerged into water unless a waterproof liner is used.

  • High Fever
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and/or Diarrhea
  • Chills and Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Aches, especially in your back, arms and legs
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Loss of Appetite

Cold Symptoms usually appear slowly and can include:

Flu Symptoms  usually occur suddenly and can include:

  • Mild Fever
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose (often with green or yellow colored discharge)
  • Sore Throat
  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Aches
  • Headache

Do’s and Don’ts of Cast Care


  • Keep the cast clean and dry. Avoid dirt and sand from getting into the cast.
  • Elevate your injured arm or leg for the first 24 to 72 hours by propping it up above the level of your heart. Use pillows as support. This will help with swelling.
  • Apply ice to the cast, especially the first few days to help with swelling. However, the ice must be in a dry plastic bag or ice pack.
  • Gently and frequently exercise the uninjured body parts, such as the fingers and toes around the injured body part. For example, if the wrist is broken make sure to keep moving your fingers to prevent stiffness.
  • Cover the cast with a plastic bag or a type of cast cover when taking a shower or bath.
  • Wear a cast boot (if provided by the doctor) for a cast on the foot. The cast boot will prevent the cast from bending, wearing out, or cracking.
  • DON’T

  • Do NOT put a lot of pressure or weight on the cast as it can break or crack.
  • Do NOT try to cut or trim any rough edges around the cast. If it is causing irritation, call the doctor.
  • Do NOT stick anything into the cast. This includes sharp objects to try and itch the skin or applying any lotions or powder.
  • Do NOT pull out any of the padding from the cast.
  • Relieving Itchiness

  • Gently pat the cast.
  • ​Get out of the heat. By staying cool and avoiding sweating, this can help alleviate itchiness.
  • lace a dry, plastic ice bag over the cast and area that itches.
  • ​Use a hairdryer and blow cool (not warm or hot) air into/inside the cast
  • If all else fails, ask the doctor if you can take an over the counter antihistamine.

    Cleaning Your Cast

    Keeping the cast clean is important, but for the occasional mess, like dropping food on your cast or getting it dirty, follow these tips:
    For a ​plaster cast,​ clean it with a slightly damp towel. Do not get the cast wet, but just wipe it down with a damp towel. Do not use any soap when wiping the cast.

    For a ​fiberglass cast​, wipe it with a damp (not wet) towel, but you may also use some soap. You should always wipe the cast afterward to make sure it’s completely dry. You can also use baby wipes to clean the cast.

    After wiping down your cast, you can also use a hairdryer on the cool setting to ensure the cast is completely dry.

    Removing the Cast

    To remove the cast, the doctor will use a ‘cast cutter’ or ‘cast saw’. The cast cutter is a small, electrical saw, but it is not sharp like a typical saw and does not rotate. Instead, it has a dull blade with ‘teeth’ that simply vibrates from side to side at a high speed. The cast cutter does have a loud sound when it’s turned on and you may feel a slight tingling sensation, but it will not cause any pain or cause any harm to the skin. In fact, the cast cutter will only cut the hard part of the cast, leaving the cotton padding inside, intact. Once cut, the cast will be pulled apart by a special tool. The inside padding will then be cut off with scissors and the newly healed arm or leg will be exposed.

    The skin may look and feel different. It may look very pale, dry and even scaly. It may also look much weaker and thinner, since that part of the body hasn’t been used for some time and muscle definition may be lost. The joint may also be very stiff at first. The good news however, is that this is all temporary and it will look and feel normal again soon. To remove the dead skin and clean the newly exposed limb, soak it in warm water and use a moisturizing lotion. Do not scrub.

    Kids FAQ

    Is it OK to get my cast signed?
    Yes, it’s OK for others to sign or draw on the cast, but to keep the cast breathable make sure nobody applies any thick substances like paint onto the cast. This will clog up the pores of the cast and can also damage it by getting it wet.

    When to Call the Doctor:

  • Pain or swelling that doesn’t go away with elevation, ice or rest.
  • ​If there is more swelling than when the cast was originally put on.
  • ​Bleeding, drainage or a foul smell is coming from the cast.
  • ​If the extremities from the injured body part, such as the fingers and toes, become cold, numb, bluish, or any other signs that there is a lack of circulation.
  • ​The cast feels too tight or too loose.
  • ​Skin irritation around the cast.
  • ​The cast cracks, bends, becomes soft, or breaks.
  • ​The cast gets very wet.
  • ​You develop a fever of 101​°​F or higher.
  • An object gets stuck or lodged inside the cast.
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