How Should I Care for My Plaster Cast and Keep It Dry? | Cast Protectors UK

Thursday, 1 February 2018  |  Admin

The worst thing about getting injured, and fracturing a bone or breaking it, is that you will have to spend months keeping it wrapped up in a cast. These casts are generally not waterproof, but there are different types of casts available in the market. Most of the times, your doctor will recommend a plaster cast, since it is the most common, but there are fibreglass casts as well. For most people the cast is only applied for a few weeks, but if you have a major break in your arm or leg, then you can ask for a waterproof cast from the doctor as well.

The one thing that you must do once you have got a cast applied on your arms of leg is to protect it, and keep it dry. You must care for your cast, otherwise your bone will not set and heal properly, and you can make your condition worse. The most important thing you must know is that there are two main types of casts that are available in the market today. These are the:

  • Plaster of Paris cast
  • Fibreglass cast

The plaster of Paris cast is the most commonly used one, because the fibreglass cast is more expensive. It does offer you with more benefits that the plaster cast, like being lighter in weight, and comes with waterproof protection. It is recommended for people, who have serious bone injuries, which requires them to wear a cast for a significant time.

Whether you are wearing a fibreglass cast or one that is made from plaster, one thing that you must do is ensure that you take good care of it. Your cast will have cotton padding applied underneath it, which is done to protect the underlying bones and skin from coming under direct pressure or contact from the cast. You are advised not to let the cotton padding underneath the cast get wet!

Bone Healing

When you break a bone in your body, the pain is going to be excruciating and your mobility and functionality will be limited until it completely heals. This generally depends on what bone your break in your body, but the good news is that all bones will heal with time. When you do suffer a bone break, you will notice that the bleeding tissues will clot your blood, and new cells will then enter the clot, and start releasing fibres that will tie up the tissues completely.

There are also lots of special cells that oversee bone formation and healing, and they will produce new fibres to repair the bone. When the new bone is forming, it will be weak and spongy, but with exercise and time, it will harden and become stronger and more firm.

Helpful Hints

  • You should protect the cast for 2 to 3 days, till the plaster has completely dried.
  • Apply ice around the cast if you notice swelling
  • If you notice swelling and discomfort, you should keep the injured limb elevated.
  • You can also exercise your toes or fingers to reduce swelling
  • To smooth over the rough cast edges, you can use an emery board
  • Don’t try to poke or scratch underneath the cast
  • Always cover your cast to keep it dry, when you shower or bathe

Warning Signs

Taking care of your cast isn’t easy, and if you notice any of the warning signs mentioned below, you should keep your injured limb elevated, and get in touch with a medical professional immediately.

  • Damaged or broken cast (never try to remove the cast yourself)
  • Tingling or numbness that doesn’t go away after 40 minutes of elevation
  • Extreme pain on the injured limb
  • Coldness, discoloration or numbness in your toes or fingers
  • Excessive swelling or extreme tightness under the cast

The Proper Method for Keeping Your Cast Dry

It doesn’t matter what kind of cast you have on your injured limb, even if it is waterproof, you should always protect your cast by keeping it dry, when showering or bathing. Fiberglass casts protect against water damage, but it is still advised to keep them dry, because if water gets inside the cast, the cotton line underneath the cast will become wet. This will then cause skin irritation, and can easily case skin breakage as well.

If the cotton lining has gotten wet, under the cast, and you haven’t been able to dry it, even with the help of a blow dryer, then you will start noticing itchy skin. In such a case, you are advised to get in touch with your doctor quickly. When you get your cast, you should ensure that you practice proper cast care, so that your healing process isn’t impeded in any way. However, most people are not able to do the basics of cast care, since wearing a cast is troublesome.

You need to be careful when showering or bathing, because even waterproof casts can’t guarantee 100% protection against water. It isn’t like you can wear a waterproof cast, and then dive into a swimming pool without worrying that the cast will get wet. Lucky for you, there are lots of different ways, through which you can keep your casts dry and protected from water.

We are going to be looking at some of them, which should give you a good idea about the proper method for keeping your cast dry.

·        Wet Casts

If you suffer from a fracture leg or arm, then you will most likely be wearing a splint, or a cast, which will keep your bones in one place, and support the limbs. This is done to ensure that the healing process begins quickly, and since your bones and the tissue doesn’t move, you tend to heal much faster.

One of the most important rules of cast care is keeping your cast dry, because if the cast gets wet, it will begin losing its shape, and your broken bones won’t be able to heal properly. This is because they don’t have the support they need to stabilize and begin healing. If the cotton lining of the cast doesn’t get wet, you can suffer from an infection or a rash that starts developing inside the cast.

·        Keeping Plaster Casts Dry

In the initial days, when the cast applied to your limbs is still new, the doctors will apply a plaster cast, which will be made from water and white powder. These casts are easy to fit around the swelling, and are bulky and heavy. It is important that you protect these casts from water, since they will start dissolving if you put them in water. This is where investing in a cast protector, like the LIMBO waterproof cast protector can be a life saver. The waterproof cast protector, ensures that you can bathe and shower without worrying about the cast getting wet.

·        Water-Resistance Fibreglass Casts

There are also lots of water-resistant fibreglass casts available in the market, which can only be applied once the swelling on your limbs have subsided. The fibreglass cast is cooler, lighter, and stronger than the plaster cast, and comes with water resistance on the outside, but water can still get inside.

Tips on Keeping Your Cast Dry

You will get tired of hearing your doctor constantly nag you on the best way to keep your cast dry and away from water. To avoid doing the same thing, we are going to provide you with some basic tips that are designed to help you keep your cast dry. It doesn’t matter whether you have a bandage, splint, leg cast, or arm cast applied over your limbs, protecting the cast from water, is imperative. So, here is what you need to do to keep your cast dry, and ensure that your limbs heal faster:

  • Keep your cast out of the reach of water, but this method can be tricky, because water can easily drip down your arm or leg. This will end up damaging and soaking the cast padding completely, which isn’t advised.
  • Another popular method for keeping the cast dry, is to tie a plastic bag around the cast. This method is NOT advised, because it is ineffective, and will only cause inconvenience.
  • Purchase a high-quality waterproof cast protector, cast cover, or cast sleeve, like the LIMBO cast protector. It is 100% watertight seal, and has been designed for swimming, showering, and bathing.

Is it OK to get a cast wet?

There are different types of cast available in the market, and this depends on the type of cast that the doctor has recommended you to wear.

·        Plaster casts are meant to stay dry

If you are wearing a plaster cast, then you need to keep it dry, otherwise the plaster will dissolve if it comes into contact with water. This is where you need to invest in a quality waterproof cast protector.

·        Fibreglass casts can usually get wet

If you are wearing a fibreglass cast, it will come with a water-repellent liner, and that means you can easily wear this cast when you shower or bathe.

You should however, know that even fibreglass casts can become uncomfortable and you can develop itching skin if it gets wet. Therefore, you should always invest in a waterproof cast protector, so that you don’t have to worry about water leaking or dripping inside it.

If your cast protector has gotten wet, you should immediately use a hair dryer to ensure that it cools down. Just make sure that you are careful with the hair dryer, otherwise you can cause a burn on your skin, which would mean another visit to the doctor.

How can I keep my cast in good shape?

If you want to ensure that your cast remains in good shape, here are some tips that you will find useful. Make sure that you do the following:

  • Always keep the cast clean, which means ensuring that no dust or food particles get inside.
  • Don’t apply any lotions or deodorants on the skin near the cast.
  • Never try to adjust the positioning of the cast if it has become loose. That is the job of the doctor, and you should let them do it.

What else do I need to know about my cast?

You should get in touch with your doctor immediately if you start noticing the following things, once you have your cast applied on your broken limbs:

  • Increased tightness and pain in the injured limb
  • Tingling or numbness in the injured foot or hand
  • Stinging or burning sensation under the cast
  • Excessive swelling under the cast
  • You can’t move your fingers or toes on the injured limb
  • There is a foul odour coming out from the cast
  • The cast has become too loose or too tight
  • You have developed raw or red skin around the cast
  • You have a very high fever

Caring for your cast isn’t going to be easy, but you should let someone else take care of you, while you put your feet up, till your limbs heal.

Post care of your cast

Most people don’t know how to properly take care of their cast, which is why they tend to visit the doctor twice or thrice to get it reapplied or fixed properly. When the cast is removed, you will notice that the skin under the cast is flaky and dry, which will tempt you to apply skin lotion on it.

However, you shouldn’t do anything without first asking the doctor and you will also notice that your limb looks thinner and weaker than before. The doctor will provide you with instructions on rebuilding the ligaments and muscles in your newly healed limb, which may involve physical therapy.

You may expect some swelling once the cast comes off from your arm or leg, and the best way to deal with swelling is keeping your limbs elevated. 

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