Fiberglass Cast Care (Child)

A cast keeps a broken bone (fracture) in place and helps it heal. Fiberglass casts are made of a manmade material that breathes. These casts are lighter in weight than plaster casts. They resist water and come in a variety of colors.

Casts are custom made. A cotton or manmade lining is gently put around the fracture. This protects the skin. Fiberglass tape is put on in layers on top of the lining. The rough edges of the cast are covered with the lining or with cotton gauze. Fiberglass casts dry very quickly, usually in less than 1 hour. During this time, the skin under the cast may feel warm.

Home care

Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe medicines to treat pain and ease itching under the cast. Follow the provider’s instructions for giving these medicines to your child.

General care

  • Have your child sit or lie down and keep the injured area raised above heart level as often as possible for the first few days. This will help reduce swelling.

  • Put cold packs around the cast as directed to reduce swelling or ease itching. Do this for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day for pain relief. You can make an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag of ice cubes in a thin towel. As the ice melts, be careful that the cast doesn’t get wet. Continue using the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day for the next 2 days. Then use the ice pack as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • Look at the cast every day for any damage. This could be a soft or flat area, flaking, or cracking.

  • Check the skin around the cast often. The skin should look healthy and not be swollen. Your child should be able to move all fingers or toes.

  • Have your child wiggle toes or fingers or tighten and loosen muscles several times a day. This will help increase blood flow.

  • Don’t let your child put objects inside the cast. Also don’t let your child stick anything inside the cast to scratch an itch.

  • Reduce itching by distracting your child. It may help to scratch the opposite limb or scratch the skin outside of the cast.

  • Follow the healthcare provider’s instructions on keeping the cast dry. Even though fiberglass casts resist water, it’s important to keep the inside dry to avoid skin irritation.

  • Clean the cast, if necessary, with a small amount of soap and warm water. Pat the wet area with a dry towel. Gently blow-dry with a hair dryer set on cool.

  • Watch for any snags on clothing or furniture. Fiberglass tends to be bumpy. Avoid breaking off any edges of the cast. Only your child’s healthcare provider should adjust or remove a cast.

  • Look at the skin underneath the cast for the signs of infection listed below. Use a flashlight to help you see.

  • If your child has a hip or large leg cast, talk with your child’s healthcare provider about tips for toileting and how to prevent skin irritation.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The cast cracks

  • Cast seems too tight or too loose

  • Wet or soggy cast for more than 24 hours

  • Pain gets worse or isn’t controlled by prescribed pain medicines

  • Pale color or discoloration of skin around cast

  • Numbness or tingling near or under the cast

  • Signs of infection (increased redness or swelling, warmth, worsening pain, or foul-smelling drainage)

  • Surface of cast feels warm

  • Fever (see "Fever and children" below)

  • Chills

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal).This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary).This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral).Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until he or she is at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell him or her which type you used.

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

Fever readings for 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

Fever readings for 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 in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • 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

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