9 Signs You May Have an Infection Under Your Cast

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One of the most serious complications of a broken bone is an infection. While casts are highly effective at immobilizing the bone and promoting healing, they can also provide the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 warning signs of infection under your cast. Knowing these signs can help you get treatment early and prevent the infection from becoming worse.

What is the Risk of Developing an Infection Under a Cast?

Keeping a broken bone in place while it heals is essential to a successful recovery. However, the use of a cast can also increase the risk of developing an infection. Casts are typically made of plaster or fiberglass and can stay on for 4-8 weeks. During that time, dead skin cells can accumulate under the cast, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, the skin beneath a cast is often warm and moist, providing an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. If left unchecked, this bacteria can cause an infection.

How to Tell If You Have an Infection Under Your Cast

While most people don't experience any problems with their cast, there is a small risk of developing an infection under the cast. Here are 10 of the most common symptoms of infection under your cast: 

1. Swelling, Redness, or Warmth Around the Edges of the Cast

If you have a cast, it's important to pay close attention to the skin around the edges. Swelling, redness, and warmth are all potential signs of infection.  

2. You Have a Fever or Chills

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A low-grade fever of 101°F or lower could be nothing to worry about, but if your temperature spikes above that, it could be a sign of infection.

3. You're in Pain

If your broken bone was healing nicely but suddenly starts hurting again, it could be a sign that something's not right. Pain is also a common symptom of infection.

4. Itching or Burning Sensation Under the Cast

If the skin under your cast feels hot and itchy, it could be a sign of too much moisture trapped underneath, which can lead to skin breakdown and infection.

Learn More: How to Stop an Itchy Cast

5. Your Cast Starts to Smell Bad

Woman pinching nose because of smell

If you notice an unpleasant odor coming from your cast, it could be a sign of bacteria growth, which can lead to infection.

Learn More: What to Do About a Smelly Cast

6. Puss or Drainage Is Coming From Your Cast

Any drainage from your cast should be cause for concern, as it could be a sign of infection. Puss is usually white or yellowish in color and has a thick, creamy consistency. If you see puss or any liquid drainage coming from your cast, make sure to see a doctor right away.

7. You Experience Nausea or Vomiting

When you have an infection, you may become nauseated or begin vomiting. These symptoms can occur as your body tries to fight off the infection.

8. Loss of Appetite

It's common to lose your appetite when you're fighting off an infection. Your body is diverting its energy to waging war against the invaders, so there's no time or energy left for digesting food.

9. Fatigue or Feeling Tired All the Time

When you have an infection, your body is working hard to fight it off. This can take a lot of energy, and you may start to feel tired or fatigued as a result.

How to Treat an Infection Under a Cast

If you have an infection under your cast, it's important to seek medical attention right away. The doctor will most likely remove your cast in order to properly assess and treat the infection. You may be prescribed antibiotics that you need to take as directed. It's important to take the entire course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better after a few days. If the infection doesn't improve after a week or two, you may need to have surgery to remove the infected tissue. 

How to Avoid an Infection Under a Cast

Developing an infection under your cast is a serious complication that can prolong your healing process, can result in irreversible tissue damage, and can cause additional pain. Here are some tips to help you avoid developing an infection under your cast:

Keep the Cast Dry and Clean 

Male patient drying wet arm cast with a dryer
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The most important thing you can do to prevent bad odors is to keep the cast clean and dry to significantly reduce the risk of getting an infection. If getting a cast wet is unavoidable, dry it off immediately. You can use a hair dryer on the cool setting or a fan to help speed up the process. 

Don’t Pick at the Inside of Your Cast

It may be tempting to scratch an itch, but this can damage your skin and make it more susceptible to infection. Never stick anything between the cast and your body to scratch or retrieve objects. Call your doctor right away if something gets lodged under your cast.

Use a Cast Cover 

A good cast cover will create an air-tight seal around your cast, keeping water out and preventing moisture build-up. This will also keep bacteria-causing infections at bay, allowing you to stay clean and comfortable while your injury heals. 

Learn More: Do Cast Covers Really Work? 

Don't Play Sports

One of the most important things is to avoid sweating or playing sports while wearing the cast. The moisture creates an environment where bacteria can thrive, resulting in an unpleasant odor.

When to See a Doctor 

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An infection under your cast is serious and can cause significant complications if not treated promptly. In general, it is advisable to see a doctor if the symptoms are severe or if they last for more than a few days. With prompt treatment, most infections can be resolved without any long-term problems.

Learn More: 7 Reasons a Broken Bone is Not Healing 

Cast21's Open Lattice Design Can Help Prevent Infections

In order to reduce bacteria's ability to cause infection, Cast21 has developed the next generation of cast alternatives. Made from a lightweight, comfortable material, the orthopedic immobilization net features a unique open lattice design that allows air and water to flow freely around your limb while providing support and protection. Unlike traditional casts that can become a breeding ground for bacteria, Cast21's cutting-edge product ensures speedy evaporation, keeping your skin dry and free from excessive moisture build-up. With Cast21's orthopedic immobilization net, you can rest assured that your healing experience will have less opportunity for complications.

Our patented technology is revolutionizing the way people heal, and we're proud to offer a product that can make a difference in people's lives. Ask your doctor about Cast21 or contact us today, and we will help you find a provider near you. 

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