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Your Child's Cast: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A cast protects a broken bone or other injury. Most casts are made of fibreglass, but plaster casts are still sometimes used.

When your child wears a cast, you can't remove it yourself. A doctor will arrange for the cast to be removed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

General care

  • Follow the doctor's instructions for when your child can first put weight on the cast. Fibreglass casts dry quickly and are soon ready to bear weight. But plaster casts may take several days before they are hard enough to use. When it's okay to put weight on the cast, do not let your child stand or walk on it unless it is designed for walking.
  • Prop up the injured arm or leg on a pillow anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • If the fingers or toes on the limb with the cast were not injured, have your child wiggle them every now and then. This helps move the blood and fluids in the injured limb.
  • Ask your doctor if you can give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Help your child keep up muscle strength and tone as much as possible while protecting the injured limb or joint. The doctor may want your child to tense and relax the muscles protected by the cast. Check with the doctor, physiotherapist, or occupational therapist for instructions.

Water and your child's cast

  • Keep your child's cast dry.
  • Tape a sheet of plastic to cover your child's cast when he or she takes a shower or bath or has any other contact with water. Moisture can collect under the cast and cause skin irritation and itching. It can make infection more likely if your child had surgery or has a wound under the cast.

Skin care

  • Try blowing cool air from a hair dryer or fan into the cast to help relieve itching. Never stick items under your child's cast to scratch the skin.
  • Don't use oils or lotions near your child's cast. If the skin gets red or irritated around the edge of the cast, you may pad the edges with a soft material or use tape to cover them.

When should you call for help?

Go immediately to an emergency department if:

  • Your child's foot or hand is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has symptoms of a blood clot in the arm or leg (called a deep vein thrombosis). These may include:
    • Pain in the arm, calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in the arm, leg, or groin.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has increased or severe pain.
  • Your child feels a warm or painful spot under the cast.
  • Your child has problems with the cast. For example:
    • The skin under the cast burns or stings.
    • The cast feels too tight.
    • There is a lot of swelling near the cast. (Some swelling is normal.)
    • Your child has a new fever.
    • There is drainage or a bad smell coming from the cast.
  • Your child has trouble moving his or her fingers or toes.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • The cast is breaking apart.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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