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Looking after your child’s plaster cast

Patient information A-Z

A plaster cast has been put onto your child’s arm or leg to prevent movement of a broken bone while it heals, or to rest an injured limb or joint.

Occasionally, swelling may occur underneath the plaster cast, causing pain and problems with circulation.

What should I do?

  • Do keep the affected arm / leg elevated, either in the sling, collar ’n’ cuff, or on pillows, as directed by the doctor / nurse. This will boost the blood circulation, and lessen the chance of any swelling.
  • Do change position regularly when in a lower limb cast to avoid getting pressure sores.
  • Do exercise all joints that are not inside the plaster, for example, fingers and toes.
  • Do carefully wash the skin around the cast daily. Check the skin under the edge of the cast for redness.
  • Do not allow the plaster to become wet.
  • Do not put anything inside the cast. This could irritate the skin and cause an infection.
  • Do not cut the plaster cast. If the cast is uncomfortable, rubbing or digging in, contact the hospital.

What should I look for?

While your child is in plaster, he / she should not feel any pain but may feel uncomfortable.

Give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen as required.

Your child’s fingers / toes should be:

  • Pink (or normal skin colour)
  • Warm
  • Pain-free
  • Able to move, with no sensation of numbness or ‘pins and needles’

Please contact the hospital immediately for advice if:

  • Fingers or toes turn white or blue and feel cold to the touch.
  • Fingers or toes become swollen and do not return to normal when the limb is raised.
  • Your child complains of feeling pins and needles, numbness or pain.
  • There is any oozing or wetness under the cast.
  • The cast starts to smell.
  • The cast becomes loose, cracks or breaks.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151