Coping With a Cast

After a bone is broken, either accidentally or for a surgical procedure, a cast is often used to let the bone heal properly. While uncomfortable and cumbersome, casts are extremely important in the treatment of fractures and preventing further problems. And caring for that cast is an essential part of that healing process. So how do you deal with a cast – especially when it starts to itch?

Keep the cast dry: Keep the cast and the cotton wrap around the injury dry at all times. If you want to wash, carefully wrap the cast in plastic and protect the cast from any water.

Don’t stick anything under the cast: Try to keep objects out from under the cast, and especially avoid the urge to stick coat hangers under the cast-this can damage both your skin and the cast material.

Trim rough edges: Rough edges of the cast can be trimmed with an emery board. Do not cut the cast with scissors or attempt to break off rough edges.

Relieve itching the right way: To relieve itching under the cast, try pointing a hairdryer on a cool-air setting down the cast to relieve the itch. Over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl can sometimes help.

Inspect the cast carefully: Examine the cast regularly and alert your doctor if it cracks, breaks, or becomes loose. Also look for reddened or raw skin around the cast edges-your doctor can pad these areas to prevent problems.

Tips for comfort:
• Elevate the injured extremity to prevent swelling in the initial days following the injury.
• Exercise the extremity. Even if your arm is in a cast, don’t neglect the fingers. Alert your doctor if the exercise causes pain.
• Apply an ice bag to the cast to help reduce swelling. If you attempt to ice the broken bone, be certain you keep the cast dry.