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Plaster Cast: Care and Precautions.

A plaster cast is applied to hold the arm or leg fracture in place while the bone heals. Once the plaster has been applied, you are advised to see a doctor the next day to check that it is fitted correctly.

On average, plaster casts stay on for about six weeks. This time is sometimes longer or shorter, depending on your age, general health and type of fracture.

Caring for the plaster

The plaster is important, as it keeps the fracture in an acceptable position. Suggestions include:

  • Rest for a couple of days once the plaster is applied.

  • Keep the plaster dry. Put a plastic bag over the plaster and seal with a rubber band when having a shower or bath.

  • Don’t stick objects down the plaster, as this will damage the skin.

  • Limit your use of powder or lotions. Powders and lotions may reduce perspiration on the skin, but should only be used outside the cast so that the skin stays clean and soft. Powder inside a cast can cake and cause sores. If your cast has a perspiration odor, this is normal; however, if you notice an unusual or foul odor coming from the cast contact your doctor.

  • Don’t cut or interfere with the cast.

  • Don’t walk on the plaster. It is better to use crutches instead.

  • Don’t lift anything or drive until the fracture is healed.

  • Reduce sweating or excess perspiration. Reduce your time in hot and sunny areas, since you'll sweat more. Strenuous exercise should be done in a climate controlled environment to reduce sweat and moisture that can create that itchy feeling.

  • Restrict your cast from getting dirt, mud, or sand inside. Any grainy materials that end up inside the cast may generate further irritation and make the itchy feeling worse. Keep your cast clean and dry is best.

  • Follow all plaster care instructions given to you by medical staff.

Measure to Reduce Itchiness in Plaster Cast:

  • Blow cool air in the cast with a hair dryer. The hair dryer must be on a cool setting, as warm or hot air may worsen symptoms or burn skin. Blow the air from the dryer between the cast and your skin.

  • Massage the exposed skin near the cast. By massaging the skin nearby the itch, there may be some relief. Be careful when massaging exposed skin near your cast to avoid painful areas. The massage may generate sensations on the skin that redirect your focus away from the itch.

  • Discuss medications with your doctor. Consider using an over-the-counter antihistamine, or a prescription from your physician. Medications by mouth such as Benadryl can be used to reduce itchy feelings if the other options aren't working. This will help calm your body’s reaction to a skin irritant

Seek urgent medical help

You should see your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency department straight away if you have:

  • Pain despite taking painkillers

  • Fingers or toes of the affected limb that go white or blue

  • Fingers or toes that won’t move

  • Pain on moving your fingers or toes

  • Numbness or pins and needles

  • Any concerns about your plaster cast.

  • Compartment syndrome, with symptoms like numbness in your affected limb, cold or pale skin with bluish color, increased pain or swelling, and burning or stinging sensations

  • You develop a fever or skin problems at the cast edges

  • Your cast breaks, cracks or develops soft spots

  • Your cast becomes badly soiled

  • You feel blister or sore developing inside the cast

Once the plaster is removed

After the plaster cast is removed, common issues include:

  • There may be some stiffness and weakness in the limb. This should improve as you go about your normal activities.

  • Sometimes physiotherapy is needed to help you recover. Physiotherapy involves exercises to improve muscle strength, joint mobility and balance. These exercises help you to safely return to normal activities.

  • The bone is still healing so you should take care for at least another month.

  • You may feel a lump at the site of the fracture. This is the new bone, which will eventually take on the shape of your original bone.


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