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Discharge Instructions: Caring for Your Plaster Cast

You will be going home from the hospital with a plaster cast in place. A cast helps your body heal by holding your injured bones or joints in place. A damaged cast can keep the injury from healing well. Take good care of your cast. If the cast becomes damaged, it may need to be replaced.

 

You have a broken ___________________ bone. This bone is located in your ____________.

Home Care

  • Keep the cast dry. A wet cast can crumble and fall apart.

    • Avoid all activities in which the cast could get wet.

    • Take special care to keep the cast dry when you bathe or shower. Wrap the cast in plastic bags. Use heavy tape to secure the plastic so that water won’t leak in.

    • Don’t soak the cast in water, even if it’s wrapped in plastic.

    • If you must go out in rain or snow, cover the cast with waterproof clothing or plastic.

    • Use a hair dryer turned to the “cool” setting to dry a cast that has become wet. Call your doctor if the cast has not dried in 24 hours.

  • Don’t stick things in the cast, even to scratch the skin. Objects put in the cast may get stuck. Your skin may be cut and become infected. If your skin itches, try blowing air into the cast with a hair dryer turned to the “cool” setting.

  • Don’t cut or tear the cast. 

  • Cover any rough edges of the cast with cloth tape or moleskin. (You can buy this at a pharmacy.)

  • Never try to remove the cast yourself.

  • Don’t pick at the padding of the cast. Padding protects your skin and must be kept intact.

  • Exercise all the adjacent joints not immobilized by the cast. If you have a long leg cast, exercise your hip joint and your toes. If you have an arm cast or splint, exercise your shoulder, elbow, thumb, and fingers.

  • Elevate the part of your body that is in the cast above the level of your heart. This helps reduce swelling.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Tingling or numbness of the injured body part

  • Severe pain that cannot be relieved

  • Cast that feels too tight or too loose

  • Swelling, coldness, or blue-gray color in the fingers or toes

  • Cast that is damaged, cracked, or has rough edges that hurt

  • Cast that gets wet and doesn’t dry within 24 hours

Follow-Up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Roux, Susan L., ARNP
Last Review Date: 3/7/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.