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Discharge Instructions: Removable Cast Care (Child)

Your child will be going home with a removable cast. This is also called a splint. A cast helps your child’s body heal by holding injured bones or joints in place. A damaged cast can keep the injury from healing well. Take good care of your child’s cast. If the cast becomes damaged, it may need to be replaced. Here's what you need to know about home care.

Your child has a broken ___________________ bone. This bone is in the ____________.

General care

  • Make sure your child wears the removable cast according to the healthcare provider's instructions.

  • Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed to control pain.

  • Always keep the removable cast dry. Have your child bathe with the cast out of the water. He or she can hold the body part with the cast outside the tub or shower. Protect it with a large plastic bag. Close the bag with tape or rubber bands. Use 2 layers of plastic to help keep the cast dry. Or you can buy a waterproof shield.

  • If the cast gets wet, dry it with a hair dryer on the “cool” setting. Don’t use the warm or hot setting. Those settings can burn your child’s skin.

  • Have your child keep the cast clean and away from dirt.

  • Don’t cut or tear the cast.

  • Keep the cast away from open flames.

  • Don’t let your child expose the cast to heat, space heaters, or a lot of sunlight. Too much heat will cause the cast to change shape.

Cleaning the cast

  • Clean the removable cast with soap and lukewarm water. Scrub it with a small brush.

  • Use alcohol wipes to rub the inside of the cast. This is to reduce odor and bacteria.

  • Wash the Velcro straps and inner cloth sleeve (stockinet) with soapy water. Then let it air dry.

Activity

  • Have your child exercise all the nearby joints that are not limited in movement by the cast. If your child has a long leg cast, help him or her exercise the hip joint and toes. If your child has an arm cast, help him or her exercise the shoulder, elbow, thumb, and fingers.

  • Raise the part of the body that is in the cast. Have your child do this as often as possible during the day. This helps reduce swelling.

  • Your child may return to school, but activities such as sports should be cleared by your child's healthcare provider first.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your child's healthcare provider.

When to call your child's healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of these:

  • Fever (see “Fever and children” below) or chills

  • Tingling, numbness, or swelling in the affected area

  • Severe pain that is not relieved with medicine

  • Cast that feels too tight or too loose.

  • Decreased ability to move arm or leg in the cast. 

  • Swelling, coldness, or blue-gray color in the fingers or toes

  • Cast that is damaged, cracked, or has rough edges that hurt

  • Pressure sores or red marks that don’t go away within 1 hour after removing the cast

  • Blisters

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds of digital thermometers. They include ones for the mouth, ear, forehead (temporal), rectum, or armpit. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Use a rectal thermometer with care. It may accidentally poke a hole in the rectum. It may pass on germs from the stool. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. If you don’t feel okay using a rectal thermometer, use another type. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child.

A baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

A child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.