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Merck Manual

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Taking Care of a Cast

Taking Care of a Cast

  • When bathing, enclose the cast in a plastic bag and carefully seal the top with rubber bands or tape or use a waterproof cover designed to cover a cast. Such covers are commercially available, convenient to use, and more reliable. If a cast becomes wet, the padding under the cast may retain moisture. A hair dryer can remove some dampness. Otherwise, the cast must be changed to prevent skin from breaking down.

  • Never put an object inside the cast (for example, to scratch an itch).

  • Check the skin around the cast every day, and report any red or sore area to a doctor.

  • Check the edges of the cast every day, and if they feel rough, place soft adhesive tape, tissues, cloth, or another soft material to pad them and keep them from injuring the skin.

  • When resting, position the cast carefully, possibly using a small pillow or pad, to prevent the cast's edge from pinching or digging into the skin.

  • Elevate the cast regularly, as directed by the doctor, to control swelling.

  • Contact a doctor immediately if the cast causes persistent pain or feels excessively tight. These symptoms may result from pressure sores or swelling, which may require immediate removal of the cast.

  • Contact a doctor if the cast gives off an odor or if a fever develops. These symptoms may indicate an infection.

  • Contact a doctor if the cast causes worsening pain or new numbness or weakness. These symptoms may indicate compartment syndrome.