20 Jul Cast care: How to enjoy the summer while wearing a cast
Preview: Wearing a cast isn’t probably your idea of a fun summer, but these summer case care tips can help you heal while still enjoying the warmth.
So you’ve got a broken bone, it’s the peak of summer, Doctor said you have to treat your cast with care so that your body can heal properly, and all you want to do is play in the sun. What now?
If you or someone you know has been put into a cast at this time of year, you might be uncertain of the best way to care for it (and the injured limb) while still enjoying summer. So here are a few tips on how to properly care for the cast throughout summer’s many activities to help avoid potential complications without missing out on all the fun.
Don’ts when it comes to taking care of your cast
- Keeping your cast dry (showering, sweating, water activities, etc.)
- How to swim while in a cast
Keep these “don’ts” in mind if a cast is officially part of your unofficial summer plans
a. Don’t ignore signs of a fever.
- If you have no other symptoms of illness, but you have a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, contact your provider.
- A high temperature may indicate an underlying condition that needs medical attention.
b. Don’t ignore discomfort.
- If you experience paralysis, pain, increased swelling, tingling, numbness, burning or stinging, don’t ignore it. Note: These are not “normal” signs of healing. Call your healthcare provider or orthopedic expert.
c. Don’t get your cast wet. (More on wearing a cast and getting in contact with water will be addressed further into the article.) A plaster cast may disintegrate if it gets wet; water also compromises the effectiveness of fiberglass casts.
- To prevent damage to your cast, cover it with a plastic bag or a cast cover before bathing or going outside in the rain.
- Getting water inside your cast can cause an infection and promote mold growth. If you notice soft spots in your cast, contact your healthcare provider.
d. Don’t stick anything in your cast.
- During your recovery, the skin under your cast may itch. While this is uncomfortable, don’t stick knitting needles, wooden spoons or anything else in your cast in an effort to relieve the itching. Note: You may damage your skin, compromise the stability of the cast, or accidentally drop the object into the cast causing more discomfort.
e. Don’t apply lotions, powders or deodorant to the skin under the cast. They may cause bacteria growth.
- If you notice red or raw skin under your cast, contact your provider.
f. Don’t break off the edges of your cast or pull out the padding. Occasionally, the edges of your cast will become ragged. Avoid trimming the cast yourself.
- Contact your provider and ask to have your cast trimmed. Your provider will be able to inspect your cast to make sure it is still giving you the support you need.
g. Don’t take your cast off.
- Removing your cast not only hinders healing, but it can also cause injury. Casts are durable.
- Your healthcare provider has a special tool that vibrates through the cast but does not cut the skin or padding underneath.
- Using home-improvement power tools to remove a cast can cause serious injury
Related article(s): A Dozen Do’s and Don’ts for Cast Care
Ways to keep your cast dry even in the water
One of the most basic — and most important — steps in caring for a cast is keeping it dry. While it can be tough to resist the call of the swimming pool on a hot summer day, what about the most basic daily shower or bath? We don’t have to swim, but most people wouldn’t want to forgo daily showering because of a cast.
It’s extremely important that you do all you can to keep that cast dry through any water-based activities, including showering. If you know that you’re going to be around water, take steps to protect the cast:
Be sure to completely waterproof your cast or splint by wrapping it in a couple of layers of plastic and sealing the edges with waterproof medical tape, or by using a waterproof product like a store-bought cast cover or spray products like Dry Pro, Seal-Tight, and ShowerDri.
Note that store-bought cast covers may be more cost effective than making homemade plastic bag covers, which rip upon removal and have to be replaced each and every time. With daily bathing, you’ll be taking anywhere from 42 to 56 showers while wearing your cast — and that’s a lot of plastic bags and tape!
Remember that no matter how well you think you have made your cast or split waterproof, you should never submerge it or allow it to stand under running water. Even a tiny pinpoint hole in the plastic can lead to cast-damaging moisture.
Try to convince a friend, family member, or loved one to help you bathe or shower. At a minimum, an extra set of helping hands will help you in and out of the bathtub or shower, which can be slippery and dangerous if you’re wearing a leg cast and hobbling on one leg.
If you’re wearing an arm or wrist cast, try using dry shampoo on your hair a couple of times per week, which can cut down on the amount of times you’ll actually have to get your hair wet to keep it clean.
If you’re wearing an ankle or leg cast and showering is your only option, consider purchasing a plastic stool you can sit on during your shower. Don’t forget to waterproof your cast first, of course.
Related article(s): Stuck In A Cast? Here’s How To Bathe, Write, Drive And More
When sweating: 3 tips to follow
Sweat is always an issue for those who have a cast, but obviously, it’s a much more prevalent problem if you’re stuck with a cast during the hottest part of the summer. You want to do your best to prevent sweating inside of your cast, but you also want to participate in those fun outdoor activities everyone else is doing.
Tip#1: Use Umbrellas. When the sun is beating down on you and your children want to be outside playing in the yard, use an umbrella to gain access to extra shade. You can’t always place trees just where you need them for optimum shade, but you can take an umbrella almost anywhere.
Tip#2: Stay Hydrated. The best way to keep a cool feeling from the inside out is to keep an ice cold bottle of water nearby for frequent sips. Even if you do not feel thirsty, keep drinking. It’ll keep you cooler and it will help you avoid overheating. Your body may hold in a bit more heat due to the sticky cast on your leg.
Tip#3: Frozen washcloths. On a really hot day, nothing feels better than an icy washcloth against your neck. Freeze several washcloths after rinsing them under the faucet for a few seconds and grab them out when the summer sun is at its worst. Place them on your neck, head, forehead, or anywhere else you feel hot. You can even put them behind your knees to get them as close to your injured leg and cast area as possible.
Related article(s): Staying Cool This Summer When You’re Recovering In A Cast
You can also ask your doctor about using a moisture-absorbing powder, such as Gold Bond, around the cast. Keep a clean, dry towel with you, and periodically wipe the skin around your cast to keep sweat from rolling down into it. When you’re done, change out of sweaty clothes and cool down as quickly as possible.
Outdoor activities you can do while in a cast, and how
There are a few options available for you to go swimming at the beach or in a pool:
The “Press ‘n Seal” variety has an adhesive that helps prevent any fluids from seeping beneath it. This will help protect the cast from any splashing, rain, or spray.
You can also find pre-fit cast guards that are designed to stretch over a cast and fit snugly around it. These are obviously going to be a little more expensive than simple cling wrap, but they’re more reliable and easier to use. We carry cast protectors at many of our store locations, so feel free to reach out or stop by if you’d like to purchase one of these for your cast.
Veterinarians use long plastic gloves that cover the entire length of the arm while the do internal exams on large animals. These are a good option for covering your cast while showering or washing dishes. However, they obviously won’t keep out any water entering the glove from the opening at the top.
There are high-quality cast covers that are 100 percent waterproof and keep a cast dry in the shower just like in the pool or at the beach. This is also an efficient way to protect a cast from the sand!
Related article(s): Tips For Caring For Your Cast During The Summer