Cast Care

Your healthcare provider just gave you a cast made of plaster or fiberglass. This cast will hold your arm or leg in place to help it heal. It might feel a bit awkward at first. But you’ll soon get used to it. During the coming days and weeks, the way you treat your cast can play a big part in how fast and how well you heal.

Keep the cast dry

If a plaster cast gets wet, it can soften and fall apart. And if the padding of a fiberglass cast gets wet, it can irritate and damage your skin. So your cast must stay dry.

  • Don't do activities that can get your cast wet. These include swimming, fishing, washing dishes, and even going out in the rain.

  • Bathe as directed by your healthcare provider. When you bathe, keep your cast out of water and wrapped in plastic.

  • Don’t soak your cast in water, even if it’s wrapped in plastic.

  • If your cast does get wet, try drying it as soon as possible. To do this, use a hair dryer set to cool. Call your healthcare provider if your cast doesn’t dry in 24 hours.

    Man putting plastic bag over cast on arm.
    Cover the cast with plastic before bathing.

Handle with care

For the best results, remember the following:

Do

  • Do keep the cast clean and dry. Cover it with plastic to protect it when around dirt or water.

  • Do use any support you're given, such as crutches or a sling.

  • Do raise (elevate) the cast above your heart whenever possible.

Don’t

  • Don't slide anything inside the cast, even to scratch your skin.

  • Don't put lotions or powders around the cast or inside it.

  •  Don't hit the cast.

  • Don't cut the cast or pull it apart.

  • Don't wash the cast.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Swelling or cast tightness that doesn't get better when it's raised above heart level

  • Your cast breaks

  • Your cast gets wet and can't be dried

  • Your cast gets loose

  • You have more pain, numbness, or tingling

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.