How to Care for a Cast
A cast is a custom-made, double-layer “bandage” that is designed to support and immobilize an injured limb while it heals. The first layer, which is placed next to the skin, is made of cotton or a soft synthetic material that provides comfortable padding around the bones. This inner layer is surrounded by a hard outer shell constructed of plaster or fiberglass.
Usually, a cast must remain in place for several weeks. In order to help it do its job and provide maximum benefits, it’s important to properly care for a cast and the injured limb it protects. Here’s what to do:
- Keep the cast clean and dry. For bathing, you can encase the cast in a plastic bag and secure it with a rubber band. Some fiberglass casts have special liners that allow them to get wet; your doctor can provide specific care instructions for this type of cast.
- Do not file down or break away any part of the cast, which can weaken it and make it prone to breakage.
- Refrain from attempting to scratch your skin by inserting objects, powders, or lotions inside the cast; instead, use a hairdryer set on a cool setting to blow air inside the cast.
- Move your fingers (if your arm is in a cast) or wiggle your toes (if your leg is in a cast) to promote circulation.
- Elevate the affected limb above your heart to reduce swelling.
While wearing a cast, you should see your doctor right away if you:
- Experience pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in your injured limb
- Develop redness or swelling around the cast
- Notice a foul odor, crack, or soft spot in the cast
- Get the cast soaking wet (and it is not designed to be waterproof)
- Feel that the cast is too tight
At South Tampa Immediate Care, our experienced medical staff will be pleased to answer any questions you may have about your cast. Our walk-in clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we do not require appointments.