7 Important FAQs About Orthopedic Casts

1. What Are The Different Types Of Cast Materials?
Casts can be made out of plaster of Paris or fiberglass material. Plaster is a white, heavy powder that forms a paste when combined with water. When it dries it hardens quickly . Casts made from plaster are heavier than a fiberglass casts. Plaster casts are only available in a white color. If accidentally wet by the patient, the plaster cast will soften and need to be replaced.

Fiberglass is a type of moldable plastic. The resin in the fiberglass is reacted with water and hardens in about five minutes. Fiberglass casts come in several bright colors as well as more exotic designs and patterns. The fiberglass covering on these casts is unaffected by water, however, the padding underneath the fiberglass may or may not be water-resistant or water proof. If a non-waterproof lining gets wet, the skin can become irritated and the cast may need to be replaced. Waterproof cast liners are available as an alternative. Doctors can decide whether waterproof cast liners are the right option.

2. How Do Healthcare Professionals Put On Casts?
The first step in putting on a standard cast is to place a stockinette around the injured area. Several layers of soft cotton are wrapped over the stockinette. The fiberglass or plastic outer layer is then soaked in water. The doctor or technician wraps the fiberglass or plaster around the soft first layers to form the rigid outer shell of the cast. In some cases, the doctor will put waterproof cast padding (instead of stockinette and cotton) directly over the skin, followed by fiberglass, to make a waterproof cast.

3. Can Plaster of Paris Casts Get Wet?
No, this type of cast cannot get wet. The plaster of Paris will soften and cast will not hold the bone in place if it is wet. A special sleeve or plastic bag (cast protector) should be used to protect the cast from water. You may also want to take a sponge bath instead of a shower.

4. Can a Fiberglass Cast Get Wet?
The fiberglass is waterproof, but the traditional padding used underneath is not. You should keep the cast from getting wet by using a cast protector or modifying your bathing habits. If the fiberglass cast has a waterproof cast liner underneath, and your Doctor allows,, you can get the cast wet when swimming or bathing. Keep in mind that there are recommendations that still need to be followed when getting a waterproof cast wet.

5. Can People Draw On The Casts?
It is okay for people to draw on a cast. A permanent marker is recommended because washable markers can smear.

6. What Happens If I Itch Under the Cast?
This is one of the most common questions that people have about broken bone cast care. If the skin under the cast itches, you may try to get relief by blowing air into it with a blow dryer set on the cool or fan setting. Never pour oils or baby powder into a cast. You should also avoid sticking a hanger or pencil – or anything – into the cast as it could cause more irritation, scratches, or cuts that could become infected without your knowledge. Wearing a cast that allows the patient to get it wet is an alternative which may reduce itching.

7. What Should I do If The Cast Cracks?
If the cast gets a crack, then you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible. The cast can usually be repaired without removing it.

If you have any more questions about the different types of casts, how to take care of your cast or how to make sure you get a waterproof cast liner, feel free to contact AquaCast Liner or your orthopedic physician today!