Good cast and skin care will help your recovery. This handout will tell you how to care for your
cast. It will also give you guidelines for skin care and physical activities. If you have any
questions, please ask your nurse or doctor.
1. It takes 24-48 hours for a cast to dry depending on whether it is fiberglass or plaster. While
your cast is drying, keep the cast uncovered as much as you can. This will help it to dry. Do
not do anything to change the shape of your cast.
2. Raise your casted arm or leg at least 4-6 inches above the level of your heart to reduce
For casted legs: Under the calf of the casted leg, prop two or more pillows. Do not rest or
prop leg using the heel area. This help to keep the heel free of sores.
For casted arms: When you’re up, wear a sling. When you’re in bed, put your arm on top of
two or more pillows and tape the arm to the pillows to prevent it from falling off. Don’t bend
your arm at the elbow when you’re in bed.
3. Wiggle your fingers and toes to reduce swelling and increase circulation.
4. Take your temperature at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. daily for the first few days. If your
temperature remains over 100.5 θF or 38.1 θC, call your doctor.
1. Check your fingers and toes daily. Call your doctor if you notice any of these signs.
Swelling that is not reduced by elevation
A blue color to fingers or toes
Loss of movement (wiggle your finger or toes to check)
Pain which is not relieved by medicine
2. Keep the cast dry and clean. Just take sponge baths while you have a cast. When you wash,
be sure to protect the edges of the cast with plastic. Please do not take showers or tub baths
even if you have a synthetic cast. The moisture can weaken your cast and irritate you skin.
3. Brush away loose plaster.
4. To protect the skin from irritation, cover the edges of the cast with waterproof tape or
moleskin. This will also help prevent the edges of the cast from crumbling.
5. Do not cover you cast with pictures. Also never draw over the area that was operated on.
The ink may be absorbed and irritate the wound.
1. Check the skin under the edges of the cast each day. If you see persistent redness, broken
skin or sores, call your doctor or the Orthopedic Clinic where you or your child was seen.
2. To relieve itching under the cast, blow cool air in with a hair dryer. Do not shake powder
into the cast or stick any object into the cast to scratch the skin.
3. Keep your toes and fingers clean.
4. Do not cover the cast with plastic bags for a long time. Your skin needs to breathe.
Your doctor will talk with you about any limits you may have. Check with him or her about
going back to work or school.
Your casted arm or leg will swell when you use it. The swelling may cause pain. To relieve the
swelling, raise your arm or leg and wiggle your fingers or toes.
Clothing tip: Sweat pants work well when a leg is in a cast. Also, Velcro strips along pant legs
or shirt sleeves are helpful.
When to Call your Doctor
If your fingers or toes become cold, pale, num, blue, or unable to move.
If you have severe or constant pain that is not relieved by pain medicine and elevation.
If there is an odor or unusual drainage under or through the cast.
If the cast become loose, cracked, broken, too tight, or wet.
Any other concerns you may have.
Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Orthopedic Clinic (608) 263-7540
Pediatric Orthopedic Clinic (608) 263-6420
After hours, either number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the orthopedic resident on
call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©6/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4332.