WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Your cast may need up to 48 hours to dry and harden completely. Even after your cast hardens, it can be damaged. Cast care will help the cast dry and harden correctly, and then protect it until it comes off.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to return to have your cast removed and your bones checked. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Elevate your limb as directed:
Raise your limb above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your limb on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated.
Care for your cast while it hardens:
- Protect the cast: Do not put weight on the cast. Do not bend, lean on, or hit the cast with anything. Use the palms of your hands when you move the cast. Do not use your fingers, because this can create indentations on the cast as it dries.
- Change positions often: Change your position every 2 hours to help the cast dry faster. Prop your cast on something soft, such as a pillow, to prevent a flat area on your cast.
- Keep the cast dry: Tie plastic trash bags around your cast to keep it dry while you bathe. You may use a blow dryer on cool or the lowest heat setting to dry your cast if it gets wet. Do not use a high heat setting, because you can burn your skin. Certain casts can get wet. Ask if you have a waterproof cast.
Care for your cast after it hardens:
- Check your cast every day: Contact your primary healthcare provider if you notice cracks, dents, holes, or flaking.
- Keep your cast clean and dry: Cover your cast with a towel when you eat. You may have a small piece of cast that can be removed to check on incisions under your cast. Make sure the small piece of cast is kept tightly closed. If your cast gets dirty, use a mild detergent and a damp washcloth to wipe off the outside of your cast. Continue to cover your cast with trash bags to keep it dry while you bathe.
- Care for the edges of your cast: Cover the cast edges to keep them smooth. Use 4 inch pieces of waterproof tape. Place one end of the tape under the inside edge of your cast and fold it over to the outside surface. Overlap tape strips until the edges are completely covered. Change the tape as directed. Do not pull or repair any of the padding from inside the cast. This could cause blisters and sores on the skin under your cast.
- Keep weight off your cast: Do not let anyone push down or lean on your cast. This may cause it to break.
- Do not use sharp objects: Do not use a sharp or pointed object to scratch under your cast. This may cause wounds that can get infected, or you may lose the item inside the cast. If your skin itches, blow cool air under the cast. You may also gently scratch your skin outside the cast with a cloth.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- Something falls into your cast and gets stuck.
- You have itching, pain, burning, or weakness in the casted body area.
- You have a fever.
- You have sores, blisters, or breaks on the skin around the edges of the cast.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your cast breaks or gets damaged.
- You see drainage, or your cast is stained or smells bad.
- Your skin turns blue or pale.
- Your skin tingles, burns, or is cold or numb.
- You have severe pain that is getting worse and does not go away after you take pain medicine.
- There is no space between your skin and the cast, and your cast looks or feels tighter than it has before.
- You have trouble breathing and chest pain.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.