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Hand Care While in a Cast

Updated: Jun 14

How to keep your hand clean while it is in a cast...

A waterproof cast cover sold at Bayside Hand Therapy Brisbane
Waterproof Cast Cover available from Bayside Hand Therapy

Unless you have been fitted with a waterproof cast, it is important to keep the cast dry. A large plastic bag may be taped onto the arm for showering but for a more reliable way to keep the cast dry, waterproof cast covers are available. To clean your skin above and below the cast, use a wet wipe to avoid any water wetting the cast padding.

If you have a synthetic cast with waterproof lining then this can get wet in the shower. In this case let the water run down through the cast with a small amount of soap, keep the water running through until all the soap is gone. The waterproof cast may take a few hours to dry completely.

It is very common to experience itching within your cast after a few weeks. This is usually due to a build-up of dead skin cells which are trapped under the cast. It is VERY IMPORTANT you do not try to scratch under a cast with objects such as a ruler as this may graze the skin. This graze would have a high risk of infection and may become very severe before you or anyone else is aware that it is there.

Actively Reduce Swelling...

When you have an injury requiring a cast, it is common to experience swelling as part of the healing process, however excessive swelling can result in the cast becoming too tight. If you suspect that your cast is too tight, let you hand therapist or doctor know immediately. Prolonged or extensive swelling in your fingers will also lead to joint stiffness, therefore it is important that you take steps to reduce swelling in your hand.

A Waterproof cast being worn during showering
Synthetic Cast with Waterproof Cast Lining

Try to elevate your hand above the level of your heart so fluid can drain from the hand towards the elbow. Physical activity which increases your heart rate can also contribute to additional swelling, so vigorous physical activity should e avoided as much as possible, especially in the first 2 weeks. If excessive swelling persists in your fingers for more than a week, see one of our friendly therapists for additional advice.

Move your Fingers, Elbow and Shoulder...

It is important to move your fingers (and the thumb if it is free) to prevent them from getting stiff. Even if the fingers are swollen, slowly making the best fist you can, followed by fully straightening the fingers 5-10 times will help to reduce the swelling and restore movement to the fingers. Do this 4-5 times per day. Be sure to fully straighten and bend your elbow and move your shoulder in all directions each day.

After being immobilised in a cast for several weeks it is common for the wrist to be quite stiff once the cast is removed. Our hand therapists can prescribe exercises to help you regain maximum range of movement and strength.

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