Leg and arm fractures are some of the most common types of physical injuries in the United States. According to medical experts, more than 6 million Americans need to get treated for broken bones every year. Aside from the injury itself, one of the most annoying aspects of getting a fractured arm or broken leg is the cast.
Unless your cast is waterproof, your standard plaster or fiberglass cast can start to smell by the end of the first week. It’s also very difficult to take a thorough bath without a waterproof cast cover. This is why you should consider a cast that’s waterproof.
Learn important facts about waterproof casts, including how to keep them clean.
What Makes a Cast Waterproof?
Regular fiberglass casts are absorbent, meaning that if they get exposed to moisture, they can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. But what makes a cast waterproof?
A waterproof wrist cast has an outer layer made of the same fiberglass as normal casts but it has a special nonabsorbent lining underneath. This can be supplemented by a splint made by medical 3D printing to give better structure and ensure more airflow.
It is different from a waterproof cast cover, which envelops your entire cast to protect it from moisture. It doesn’t need to be clipped on and you don’t have to check it for holes like a waterproof cast cover.
What are the Cons of a Waterproof Cast?
The same lining that makes a cast waterproof imposes a few limitations on them.
First, the lining means you can’t use a waterproof cast if your fracture required surgery as it can slow down the healing of the incision by removing vital moisture.
Next, you cannot have a waterproof cast put around your limbs immediately after you’re injured and will need to wait between a week or two. Insurance providers may also not cover casts that are waterproof unless medically needed.
Why Would You Need a Waterproof Cast?
There are a variety of reasons you may want to have a waterproof leg cast instead of the regular fiberglass casts offered by hospitals.
The following are some key reasons you may want to have a cast that’s waterproof installed around your broken limb.
You Have Sensitive Skin
Regular casts have normal cotton underlining that can absorb moisture not just from the air but also from water and even your sweat. This means people with delicate or sensitive skin are open to dermal infections or fungal growths.
Wearing a cast with waterproof lining can keep the skin underneath it dry and prevent these types of dermal issues.
You Dislike Odors
The cotton lining underneath an ordinary cast not only absorbs moisture but also develops a very off-putting odor after a few days. This is because your sweat and moisture from the air turn the cotton into a petri dish for microbes which emit unpleasant smells.
A waterproof wrist cast deprives these organisms a place to breed meaning your cast will have no unpleasant smells.
You are Exposed to Moisture
You will need to continue living your life as you recuperate from your injury, especially if you have a broken bone that requires a long time to heal, like a shattered leg.
If your lifestyle means you are constantly exposed to lots of moisture you may want to have a waterproof leg cast. This could mean you live next to a large body of water or work in an industry that uses a lot of water like a carwash. The additional cost of making your cast waterproof can make your life considerably easier.
How Can You Maintain a Waterproof Cast?
A waterproof cast need proper maintenance just like every other type of medical device.
To ensure that your cast remains clean and functional, follow these tips for maintaining your waterproof cast properly.
The lining that makes your cast waterproof can withstand complete submersion, which means that you can go swimming in a pool. You are still discouraged from swimming in the ocean or anywhere that can have a high content of microbes and particles.
However, even if you only take your waterproof leg cast to the local pool, you should still rinse it thoroughly with clean water and soap. This ensures that no irritants and particulates get stuck between the cast and your skin.
The fiberglass outer lining of your cast requires careful handling to ensure it doesn’t shatter ahead of time. If you want to dry your cast quickly, don’t expose it to prolonged sunlight as this could affect the integrity of the cast. Leave it to air-dry instead by putting your cast in front of an electric fan or using the low setting of a blow-dryer.
Because the lining isn’t absorbent, you are actually encouraged to wash your waterproof leg cast daily to remove dirt, microbes and other possible irritants. Just be sure to be thorough when you wash it and to dry it properly afterwards.
Medical technology has progressed far enough that you can access linings that make your cast waterproof. However, prevention is still the best type of medical intervention, and you should take every precaution so you don’t end up with a fracture.