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Cast and Splint Care Tips - Topic Overview

Keeping a cast or splint dry

  • Unless you have a fiberglass cast with a quick-drying lining or a brace with air pads, do not get your cast wet. If you have a removable splint, ask your doctor whether it's okay to remove it to bathe. Even though the splint is removable, your doctor may want you to keep it on as much as possible.
  • Keep your cast or splint covered with at least two layers of plastic when showering or taking a bath or when you have any other contact with water. Moisture can collect under the cast or splint and cause skin irritation and itching.
  • If you have a wound or have had surgery, moisture can increase the risk of infection.
  • If you have a fiberglass cast with a fast-drying lining or a brace with air pads, make sure to rinse it with fresh water after swimming. It will take about an hour for the fiberglass cast lining to dry.

Itchy skin

Itchy skin is common under a cast. Blowing cool air from a hair dryer or fan into the cast may help. Never stick anything inside your cast to scratch the skin.

Don't use oils or lotions near your cast. If the skin becomes red or irritated around the edge of the cast, you may pad the edges with a soft material or use tape to cover it. Call your doctor if you think you have a skin infection.

Complications of wearing a cast

Severe or increasing pain may be a symptom of a serious problem. Compartment syndrome is caused by swelling within the space or "compartment" that contains muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and bones. Pressure on arteries, veins, and nerves causes severe pain, slows circulation to the muscles and nerves, and may cause permanent damage to these tissues. Compartment syndrome is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment.

Pressure sores are another problem that may develop over a bony area under the cast or splint, such as an elbow or ankle. You may get a pressure sore if your cast or splint is too tight. A warm spot on the cast or splint, pain, drainage, or an odor are symptoms that a pressure sore or skin infection may be present. Call your doctor if you think you have a pressure sore or skin infection under your cast or splint.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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