FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What supplies are needed to care for a cast at home?
To keep a cast in good shape you should, first of all, keep it away from water, sand, and dirt. You must also avoid toiletries like lotions, oils, powder, or deodorant on or around the cast. Plaster casts can make your skin feel itchy but you have to refrain from scratching underneath the cast at all costs. You could easily injure yourself or damage the cast. Instead, use the hairdryer to blow a little warm air between the cast and the skin.
What is a hard cast made of?
Synthetic hard casts are made of fiberglass and they have gained popularity lately over the more traditional plaster casts. Both materials have their pros and cons and they are applied in a similar fashion. Fiberglass casts win by being more breathable and lightweight, which makes them more comfortable to wear than plaster casts. They are also more durable and can be X-rayed but they are also more expensive and can prove harder to mold on certain parts. Neither material is waterproof, but fiberglass and plaster casts aren't the only options available. While not exactly hard, air casts usually consist of an air-filled splint in a hardened outer shell. They can be removed for washing and are suitable for strains and sprains, as well as bone fracture recovery.
Can I cast my own arm?
If you suspect your arm is broken, go to the hospital and do not attempt to create plaster casts at home. Even if you have access to medical casting supplies, a doctor must examine the arm and order X-rays to determine whether bones need to be realigned to heal correctly. To avoid additional strain on your hand, wrist, or elbow before getting to the hospital, you can use an inflatable air splint. Similar splinting supplies are available for infant and child arms.
Can you buy materials to make a cast?
Orthopedic casting supplies are available and making a cast at home is not physically difficult, but you should never self-treat a fracture. If the bone fragments aren't properly aligned when you make the cast, they will heal in the wrong position, which is very painful long-term and can cause additional problems. Orthopedic specialists and trauma surgeons are the only ones trained to evaluate and treat fractures and misalignments, especially when it comes to legs. Temporary casts, on the other hand, are very useful in the early stages of a fracture, before the affected limb can be examined by a doctor. For them and for finger and thumb injuries, it is useful to have around your home some elastic compression bandages, precision scissors, and splinting material like finger splints, inflatable air casts, or stockinettes.
Pro tip: If setting a fiberglass cast at home, remember to wear protective gloves.
What is the strongest casting material?
Fiberglass is stronger than plaster and it takes significantly less to set, but strength also comes from the wrapping technique. The figure-of-eight wrapping technique creates stronger casts than the spiral wrapping one. It is also worth mentioning that traditional plaster casts can take up to 48 hours to fully dry and harden, whereas fiberglass can set in as little as seven minutes. Extra fast plaster is also available and it is suitable for casting hands or reinforcing existing casts. It can set in two to four minutes.
How do you keep a cast dry?
Regular casts should stay dry at all times to prevent skin irritation or infection. To prevent water damage during showers and baths, wrap the cast in cling film and seal it with duct tape. Fiberglass casts can also have a waterproof liner but that costs extra and you should ask the doctor if it's okay for the cast to get wet. In case a cast does get wet, dry the inside with the hairdryer set on low heat.
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The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, charts, and any other material on this site, is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of medical guidance provided by your physician. No information on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a qualified medical professional about your condition or circumstances before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.