Spring weather signals the start of many outdoor activities as people of all ages eagerly embrace the change in weather. Paul Prinz, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System says, "Broken bones and fractures occur year 'round but the change in seasons always creates an increase of patients in our offices."
Accidents happen and bones get broken but Dr. Prinz says that maintaining good health practices while healing in a cast is especially important. "Never stick anything into your cast to scratch an itch. Never. I have had to remove casts to retrieve items such as pencils, pens, coins, and toys," he said.
Dr. Prinz is no longer surprised when he removes casts and finds objects. "The bone may be safely healed but scratching techniques can cause skin infections that require additional medical care," he said. "The skin is very delicate and sensitive when it is protected by a cast and is very easy to injure. Objects can create wounds which may lead to infection, " Dr. Prinz warns. He also says that healing skin wounds will increase the itch factor.
Tips for Itch Relief
Dr. Prinz advises patients to keep the cast clean and dry, and often uses a waterproof cast to prevent irritation. Here are Dr. Prinz's top tips for comfort when you sport a cast:
- Use a watertight wrap to keep the cast dry during showers.
- Consult your physician and ask if an over-the-counter antihistamine can be safely used to minimize irritations.
- Avoid beaches, sandboxes, and other areas that can easily allow debris to get in the cast.
- Elevate the limb to decrease swelling that could casue tightness in the cast.
It is not unusual for a cast to smell. "Talk to your physician about your concerns," said Dr. Prinz. "Keep the cast dry and as clean as possible. The warm-up in weather makes everyone want to get outdoors and get active, even when wearing a cast, but you'll heal faster and more comfortably if you slow down and take it easy."