Plaster cast or backslab care instructions for patients and their carers

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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This fact sheet explains how to care for your child in a cast at home. Please read the following instructions carefully.

If you have any questions or problems, please report immediately to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.

Care of the affected arm or leg


  • During the first 24 hours try to keep the limb elevated above the level of the heart and move the fingers and toes as much as possible. This will help reduce the chance of swelling.
  • Use the sling provided to elevate an arm and rest it on pillows when sitting or lying down. Unless specifically instructed by your doctor or physiotherapist, the sling should be removed after 48 hours.
  • Elevate a leg on pillows when resting and use crutches or walking aids as instructed.

Check for any of the following:

  • Marked swelling of the fingers or toes.
  • Marked blueness or whiteness of the fingers or toes.
  • Pins and needles or tingling.
  • Numbness or loss of feeling.
  • Inability to move fingers or toes.
  • Severe or increasing pain under the plaster.
If any of those occur, elevate the limb for 20 minutes and encourage finger / toe movement. If the symptoms are not relieved, report immediately to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.

Skin care

  • Don't scratch under the cast with sharp objects e.g. knitting needles, chopsticks or pens. Children may push objects under the plaster and this could cause a very nasty pressure sore. If there is the slightest indication that an object has been trapped inside the cast, report immediately to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.

Cast care

  • Do not wet, cut, heat or otherwise interfere with the cast.
  • It takes about 48 hours for a plaster of paris cast to dry properly. Allow the cast to dry naturally in circulating air. Keep it away from direct heat such as heaters, electric blankets, hot water bottles and hair dryers. Avoid damage to the cast by not walking on it or resting it on hard surfaces while the plaster is drying.
  • It is safer for children to bathe in a shallow bath rather than have a shower. Always ensure the cast is totally protected with a plastic bag, well sealed at the top by adhesive tape. Do not put limb in shower or immerse in bath.
  • If the cast becomes loose, cracked, and soft or is no longer keeping the injured body part immobilised, please report to your nearest Emergency Department.


  • Keep the cast dry. When having a bath or shower, cover the cast with a plastic bag taped securely at the top and keep the cast out of the water as much as possible.
  • Do not push any objects inside the cast.
  • Check the circulation of fingers or toes. If you are concerned, elevate the limb and wriggle fingers or toes.
  • Follow the specific instructions of your doctor and/or the physiotherapist.
  • Your child should not take part in any very active play or sport.
  • If you have any concerns please go to your nearest Accident & Emergency Department.

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Kids Health (CHW)
The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Tel: (02) 9845 0000
Fax: (02) 9845 3562
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Tel: (02) 9382 1688
Fax: (02) 9382 1451
Kaleidoscope, Hunter Children's Health Network
Kaleidoscope Children Young People and Families Network
Tel: (02) 4921 3670
Fax: (02) 4921 3599