Your new synthetic fiberglass cast will harden very quickly and will completely dry in about one hour. Although your cast is very lightweight, durable and should last until your next appointment, you must be careful to not participate in activities that will damage it or your underlying skin (i.e. running, jumping, walking in very wet/slippery or sandy areas). This type of cast can develop rough edges that may snag your clothing or irritate your skin. In this case, use an emery board or small file to smooth any rough spots. You may also fold a strip of Dr. Scholl’s adhesive Moleskin over/around these areas (this item can be found at various pharmacies). Playing sports is generally not recommended as falling on the injured extremity can displace a fracture and excessive perspiration can make the cast loose (or cause extreme itching). Your doctor will determine if, and when, you can play sports.
Don’ts & Do’s
DO NOT GET YOUR CAST WET AS PROLONGED DAMPNESS MAY RESULT IN SERIOUS SKIN DAMAGE. IF you are fitted with a PROCEL Cast Liner (a.k.a. Gortex or “water-proof” cast), you will be given additional instructions. To keep your cast dry, we recommend the following:
- Cast protectors for bathing are available at most pharmacies/medical supply stores and online (i.e. Ortho.Rx in side clinic). An alternative (and economical) protective covering is to wrap your entire cast with TWO plastic bags to prevent water from seeping into it. First, cover your entire cast with the first bag and secure in place with duct/masking tape. Second, wrap a small hand towel around the top edge of your cast to keep water from leaking into it. Third, apply the second bag over your cast and secure it (commercial Saran® Cling Plus® Wrap or Glad® Press ‘n Seal Wrap® works well per some patients). Also check www.drycast.com
- If your cast gets wet, it may be dried with a hair dryer on its coolest or least warm setting for 30 minutes to one hour (or longer) until the cast padding is dry. However, if the padding remains excessively damp/wet, you can develop serious skin problems; in this case, your cast will have to be replaced as soon as possible.
DO NOT PUT ANYTHING INTO YOUR CAST!!! NO coat hangers, rulers, pens, pencils, nail files, chop sticks, drumsticks, knives, screwdrivers, coins, powder, lotion, perfume, sand or anything else that could irritate or seriously harm your skin (and possibly lead to an infection). Furthermore, you might tear away the padding or cause it to bunch up, thus creating a potential pressure point (or a tourniquet effect in some cases). Itching is often “psychological” but can be aggravated from other causes such as dry skin: “Itching usually prompts scratching, which can sometimes lead to a vicious itch-scratch cycle. Scratching can initially feel so satisfying – but prolonged scratching just leaves you with irritated skin that can still itch! Since scratching provides only temporary relief and doesn't promote healing of the underlying problem, it is best to avoid scratching if at all possible. If scratching breaks open the skin, bacterial infection can set in … The best way to allow irritated skin to heal is to stop scratching it…” (www.MedicineNet.com, “Itch: Scratching Below the Surface”).
To stop the itch/scratch cycle, try the following suggestions to lessen your irritation:
- Change your current activity to get your mind off the nuisance itching or blow cool air into the cast ends.
- Oral antihistamines such Benadryl are available over-the-counter; however, these frequently cause mouth dryness and sleepiness. Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery!!!
- Purchase Castblast® Talc Spray for safe, fast itch and odor relief. Ask your pharmacist or order from various retail businesses such as Broken Beauties, LLC ($11.95 each) at 1-866-692-1916 or their website www.BrokenBeauties.com. If you had surgery, consult with your doctor before using this product!!!
DO NOT REMOVE YOUR CAST UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!! You might injure yourself in the process or worse (i.e. delay healing). If your cast is very uncomfortable or broken, call our clinic to schedule an appointment for an evaluation and appropriate treatment.
DO EXERCISE/MOVE YOUR FINGERS/TOES FREQUENTLY. This helps improve circulation, reduce swelling, and generally aids the healing process when your cast is finally removed.
DO ELEVATE YOUR CAST ABOVE HEART LEVEL FOR 20 TO 30 MINUTE INTERVALS. This will greatly help reduce soft tissue damage, inflammation, swelling and muscle spasm. Elevate your cast…
- for at least the first 48-72 HOURS following your injury or surgery (then as often as necessary).
- if you have NUMBNESS/TINGLING of your fingers/hand/arm/toes/foot/leg. Remember: move them!!!
- if your cast feels TOO TIGHT. Your cast was applied in such a way as to minimize excessive movement and therefore should be snug but NOT too tight (there is a difference!).
- for an ARM cast, raise it as high above your heart as possible (overhead if necessary).
- for a LEG cast, lie down and prop your leg up on several pillows. NOTE: the sitting position normally does NOT effectively relieve swelling/tightness! You need to lie down and elevate high for MAXIMUM pain relief.
DO USE AN ICE/COLD PACK FOR THE FIRST 24-48 HOURS AFTER AN INJURY. The cold will filter through your cast to help relieve swelling and/or pain (make sure the bag does not leak!).
Please Call Us IF:
- you experience PAIN/BURNING/NUMBNESS/TINGLING/ INCREASED PAIN beyond the limits of your pain relief medication, or if you feel an ABNORMAL PRESSURE SPOT under your cast.
- any of the above symptoms are NOT NOTICEABLY BETTER after elevation and ice/cold therapy or becomes worse in spite of elevation. NOTE: it is normal to have some swelling after a new cast is applied, especially when your arm/leg drops below your heart level. In this case, elevate your cast as high as possible above your heart.
- you have a FEVER or CHILLS or notice DRAINAGE/UNUSUAL ODOR from your cast.
- your cast is TOO LOOSE. It is normal for your muscles to atrophy (i.e. weaken and reduce in size) while in the cast; also any swelling present during the cast application will normally decrease. Therefore, some looseness is acceptable unless you feel the cast rubbing on your heel, ankle, wrist, elbow, etc. or have excess movement.
- your cast is CRACKED or DAMAGED. Walking casts tend to wear thin on the bottom with normal walking. If this happens, your cast may be repaired or replaced as determined by your orthopedic health care professionals.
- you have ANY OTHER QUESTIONS regarding your cast or treatment. When in doubt, let us check it out!
› Visit kidshealth.org for more "Cool Cast Facts" for kids