Cast Care

If your child has just had a cast applied, the information below will explain how to care for the cast. If the cast makes your child uncomfortable or if she has trouble getting used to it, call your child’s doctor for advice and suggestions.

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Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Orthopedics.

Caring for a cast

As long as your child has a cast, follow these instructions.

  • Keep the cast elevated for the first 48 hours (2 days). Whenever your child is resting (either sitting or lying down) keep the arm or leg that is in the cast elevated above the level of the heart. You may want to prop the cast up on some pillows.
  • Be sure that the top end of the cast does not indent the skin and muscle when sitting with the cast resting with the cast supported. This may cause discoloration and swelling of the fingers or toes.
  • Change the position of the arm or leg about every 2 hours. This keeps the cast from putting too much pressure on the skin in any area. Observe the skin under the top edge of the cast. An early sign of too much pressure is indented skin. A later sign is swollen or discolored fingers or toes.
  • Check the skin around and under the cast every day for sores or red areas. Press the skin down all around the cast so you can look under the cast.
  • Help your child exercise the fingers or toes of the arm or leg that is in a cast.
  • If the cast becomes very dirty, clean it with a slightly damp cloth. Do not use soap. Be careful not to get the padding wet.
  • Use a hair dryer to blow cool air under the cast. This may help if your child’s skin is itchy. It also helps the cast to dry.
  • If the itching is very bad, ask your child’s doctor to prescribe or recommend some medicine to ease the discomfort.
  • You will need to sponge bathe your child while the cast is on. Cover the cast with a plastic bag to protect the cast during the sponge bath. Talk with your child’s doctor or nurse for ideas if bathing is a problem.

What not to do

Be careful not to:

  • Wet the cast. A plaster cast will crack and crumble.
  • Let the cast dip into the bathwater, even if it is in a plastic bag.
  • Let your child put any objects inside the cast for any reason. This may injure skin.