700 Children's Blog

4 Things to Know About Caring for Your Child’s Cast

Jun 11, 2019
Child with arm cast holding a volleyball.

Is your child an athlete? A daredevil? Or maybe a little clumsy? Based on statistics on broken bones or fractures in children, it’s likely that you will one day find yourself caring for a cast. Up to 40% of girls and as many as 50% of boys experience a broken bone during childhood.

Here are four things you should know about casts and how to care for them.

  1. Types of casts

    There are several types of casts, but the most common are fiberglass and plaster. If your child falls out of a tree or off their bike, he or she will probably get a fiberglass cast. Fiberglass casts are strong, lightweight, and the most important feature – waterproof!

    Plaster casts are used less frequently. They form well, but dissolve in water, making them harder for parents and children alike to care for.

  2. Bathing with your cast

    If your child has a waterproof cast – fiberglass or otherwise – they can bathe normally or even join the swim team (with your doctor’s and coach’s permission of course)!

    Use a hairdryer on a cool setting to dry the skin in and around the cast after bathing or completing any water activities. Damp skin can cause itching and irritation.  

    If your child’s cast is not waterproof, it must be covered while bathing. You can purchase a cast cover or use a home remedy. Cover the cast with a plastic bag or trash bag – one without holes. Gather the excess bag above the cast and tape it snugly around your child’s arm or leg. To avoid irritating the skin, try taping in a different place each time. Remove the bag as soon as the bath or shower is over, and check to make sure the cast is dry.

  3. Itching and scratching

    If your child has a cast, he or she will probably complain that it itches.

    Do

    • If the cast is waterproof, you can put water down it. The more dead skin you remove, the less itching your child experiences.
    • If the cast is not waterproof, set a hairdryer on a cool setting and blow air through the cast.
    • Knock on the cast at the site of the itching.

    Don’t

    • Never put anything in the cast. This can break the skin, which can cause an infection.
  4. Having your cast removed

    The scariest parts of having a cast removed are the sight and sound of the saw. The blade of the saw does not move in a circular motion, however. It shakes back and forth. In fact, if you place the saw on your bare hand, the skin will move back and forth with the movement of the saw. Tape is applied to help protect your child from the heat of the saw as well.

    Once the cast is removed, some dead skin is generally left in its place. Let air get to the area and wash with soap and water, and the skin will return to normal within a few days.

For more cast care tips from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, click here.

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Sean Eing
Orthopedics

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.