A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Benefits of a waterproof cast

When you break your arm or injure your leg and need to have a cast, everyday tasks can be daunting. Will you be able to drive, eat or move from place to place like you used to? Even simple hygiene like showering can be quite a task. Waterproof casts can help alleviate some of the hassle.

“It can be tough to keep a traditional cast dry,” said Dr. Rachel Randall, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Patients with waterproof casts can shower, bathe and go swimming and more. If their skin feels itchy in the cast, running cool water through it can really help. That is not an option in a traditional cast.”

Two kids draw on a boy's waterpoof cast.

Waterproof casts can make every day life easier.

Benefits of being waterproof

A waterproof cast is just a waterproof version of the traditional cast that is used to immobilize and protect extremities. The casts have the same fiberglass exterior, but the padding is waterproof material rather than cotton material.

“I like to offer waterproof casts whenever possible, because it makes quality of life so much better for patients and their families,” Randall said. “If there is a closed injury like a fracture that we are treating in a cast, that patient is a perfect candidate.”

The waterproof cast is just as durable as a traditional cast for sports or outdoor activities (if allowed by your medical provider).

Waterproof is not always recommended

Sometimes people think they can do anything because their cast is waterproof. However, Randall says that is not the case. It can be damaging to the skin when you go in salt water or dirty water like a pond. You also do not want to get sand or debris inside the cast.

“If this happens, the cast needs to be removed right away and replaced,” she said. “Also, waterproof casts cannot be used when there are pins in place, or a surgical incision, as this would increase the risk of infection significantly.”

If you have sensitive skin or cannot tolerate the waterproof liner, you may require having a traditional cast.

Talk to your provider or child’s pediatrician about what option is best for you.

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