Casts are used to protect injured bones and soft tissues. They completely encircle your limb and have a hard outer shell with a soft layer underneath that serves as padding on your skin. Casts are made with plaster or fiberglass, which make them hard on the outside. Fiberglass is lighter, more durable, and “breathes” better than plaster. Plaster is less expensive and sometimes shapes better than fiberglass. Some casts are waterproof, but not all.
Even if you are wearing a waterproof cast, you should take the following precautions:
- Avoid water from lakes, rivers, and oceans. This type of water carries dirt and sand, which can get inside your cast.
- After coming in contact with chlorinated water, be sure to rinse the waterproof cast with fresh water.
- Allow your waterproof cast to drain as much as possible after getting wet.
- Rise the cast with clean water if the body part was excessively sweating.
If you are NOT wearing a waterproof cast, you should avoid getting it wet at all costs. Wear a bag around your cast while showering and keep it out of the water. Follow these other cast care tips:
- Do not stick objects inside your cast in an attempt to itch your skin. The object could get stuck or irritate your skin.
- Never attempt to trim hard edges off your cast. Contact your doctor.
Sometimes, there can be problems with casts. Swelling can cause the cast to feel too tight and then perhaps too loose after the swelling goes down. If you feel any of the following symptoms while wearing a cast, call your doctor immediately, as it may mean you need a cast change:
- Worsening pain
- Numb or tingling hand or fingers
- Burning or stinging skin
- Excessive sweating in the hand
- Loss of finger movement
You should also contact your doctor if your cast develops a crack or a soft spot. Learn more about cast care and other conditions/injuries of the upper extremity at www.HandCare.org.