Cast Care: Signs & Symptoms

When a cast is cared for properly, it can be an extremely effective tool in protecting injured bones and tissues. To receive a successful recovery when using a cast, it’s important to know what symptoms are normal and what symptoms require assistance from a health care provider.

Read about a list of common signs and symptoms to look out for when wearing a cast, below.

Pain and swelling:

  • When dealing with pain and swelling, take pain medicine as prescribed and elevate your arm above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
  • If your provider has given you a sling for your arm, wear it to keep the injured part elevated. Wiggling your fingers can also reduce swelling and stiffness.
  • Most cast problems and cast irritation arise from overusing the extremity and not resting it properly.


  • A cast should never get wet.
  • A fiberglass cast won’t fall apart but the padding underneath may start to smell if it gets wet.
  • Wet padding may also hurt your skin.
  • You should bathe using a wet washcloth, rather than taking a shower or bath.
  • If you are going to be near water (even rain), put your cast in a heavy plastic bag. Hold the bag in place with a rubber band and try not to get the bag wet. If your cast does get wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer. If your cast gets wet and it doesn’t feel dry after 4 or 5 hours, call your health care provider.
  • The DryPro Waterproof Cast Cover is a great product to use if your cast will be near water. You can purchase the cast cover here.


  • Many people deal with itching inside a cast. Never reach inside a cast with your fingernails or another object to scratch. It may injure your skin and cause an infection.
  • Sometimes shaking a small amount of talcum powder inside a cast, or using a hair dryer on a cool setting, helps relieve the itching.
  • If itching persists, you may use over-the-counter Benadryl as directed.


  • How active you can be depends on your injury.
  • You should avoid riding a bike or playing sports.
  • Ask your doctor about what activities you can safely do.

 After my cast is put on what problems should I watch for?

Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these problems…


Signs of problem swelling include:

  • You have severe or persistent pain.
  • Your fingers or toes feel numb, painful, or can’t move.
  • The color of your fingernails or toenails change.


Sometimes the body part inside a cast can become infected. Signs of infection include:

  • Drainage from the skin under the cast.
  • Pain.
  • Fever.

Cast fit:

Call your doctor if the cast feels too loose or too tight.

Dealing with an upper extremity injury or issue?

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