Is it OK to get a cast wet?

It depends on the type of cast. For example:

  • Plaster casts are meant to stay dry. If your child has a plaster cast over cloth wrapping, do what you can to keep the cast dry. During daily bathing, consider covering your child's cast in two layers of plastic, sealed with duct tape — or using another type of waterproof shield. Also, keep the cast outside of the shower or tub.
  • Fiberglass casts can usually get wet. If your child has a fiberglass cast that's lined with a water-repellent liner, it's probably OK for him or her to get the cast wet if the doctor approves.

    Keep in mind, though, that even a fiberglass cast can become uncomfortable and irritate your child's skin when wet. As with a plaster cast, consider covering your child's fiberglass cast in plastic or using a waterproof shield during daily bathing.

To dry any type of cast, use a hair dryer on a cool setting. Don't use a warm or hot setting, which could cause a burn. You might also try a vacuum cleaner hose because it will pull air through the cast and speed up the drying process.

How can my child keep his or her cast in good shape?

To keep your child's cast in good condition:

  • Keep it clean. Keep dirt and sand away from the inside of your child's cast. Cover your child's cast while he or she is eating.
  • Skip lotions. Avoid placing powder, lotion or deodorant on or near the cast.
  • Leave adjustments to your child's doctor. Don't pull the padding out of your child's cast. Don't trim the cast or break off rough edges without first asking your child's doctor.

What else do I need to know about my child's cast?

Contact your child's doctor immediately if your child:

  • Feels increasing pain and tightness in the injured limb
  • Feels numbness or tingling in the injured hand or foot
  • Feels burning or stinging under the cast
  • Develops excessive swelling below the cast
  • Can't move the toes or fingers of his or her injured limb or they become blue or cold
  • Develops a crack, soft spots or a foul odor in his or her cast or gets the cast soaking wet and doesn't dry it properly
  • Says the cast feels too tight or too loose
  • Develops red or raw skin around the cast
  • Develops a fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher

Caring for a child's cast isn't always easy. Remind your child that taking care of the cast will help minimize discomfort during the healing process.

April 10, 2015 See more In-depth