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HealthInfo Canterbury

Care of your cast

Your cast protects your injured bones while you heal. While it may take a few days to get used to your cast, it's important to keep it in good condition so it can continue protecting you. That will help you heal as well and as quickly as possible.

Drying the cast

Different casts will dry and reach their maximum strength in different lengths of time.

Don't dry the cast with a heater or hair dryer as you'll burn your skin under the cast.

While it's drying, rest the cast on something soft such as a pillow or in a sling (you'll be told how long to wear the sling for).

Cast care

Don't walk on your leg cast until you've been fitted with a cast shoe and your doctor says you can.

Don't chip, crush, cut, or break your cast.

Don't get the cast wet (unless it's a waterproof cast). Moisture will weaken or destroy the cast and can damage your skin under the cast. When you have a bath or shower, wrap a towel around your plaster and cover it with a well-sealed plastic bag. You may be able to buy a waterproof liner.

Self-care

The cast will help to reduce the pain of your injury, but you may still need pain relief, which your doctor will prescribe. Follow the instructions you've been given.

There may be swelling for the first few days so keep your limb and cast raised. If your arm or hand is in a cast, do the exercises in Exercises of your arm and hand while in a cast. If your leg or ankle is in a cast, move your toes.

Sometimes you can get itchy under the cast. Don't insert anything under the plaster (for example, a back scratcher, knitting needle, pen or powder) to relieve the itching. Doing so can damage your skin and cause an infection. And pushing the padding further down into the cast can cause it to bunch up, resulting in pressure on your skin.

To help relieve the itching you can:

Remember to sponge the fingers or toes of the limb in the cast.

It's best not to play sport while you're in an arm or leg cast.

Crutches

If your leg is in a cast, bring your crutches with you to every follow-up appointment in case your plaster is changed or removed. You may need them when you first come out of a cast until your ankle loosens up and you become confident walking again without the protection of the cast.

Return your crutches to where you got them from when you no longer need them.

Problems

Contact the department you were first seen at if you have any concerns or if you're experiencing any of the following problems:

On the next page: Deep vein thrombosis and plaster casts

Written by Orthopaedic Outpatients and Physiotherapy Departments, Christchurch Hospital. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2020.

Sources

See also:

Driving with an injury

Flying in a cast

Page reference: 33218

Review key: HILWI-174362