How to Keep a Cast Dry in the Shower

If you have a broken bone, it is pretty likely that you have a cast—and that you face the feat of bathing or showering it without getting wet. Keeping a cast dry is critical to healing, with wet molds leading to skin irritation and infection.

Unless you decide to hold your arm or leg out of the shower or water, which still puts the cast at risk of getting wet since water will inevitably drip down through soaking the cast's padding. However, if you plan to hold your cast out of the path of the water, find something to cover it. Along with skin irritation and infection, wet casts can cause some problems, including foul odors and discomfort.

Here, some ideas for keeping your cast dry so you can and still keep yourself clean.


Plastic Bag

plastic bag with blue zip closure

Jaunty Junto / Getty Images

Using paper as a cover will not do the job; instead, it will cause more mess than a wet cast, which is why using plastic bags is an excellent way to keep a cast, plastic or fiberglass, dry in the shower. Place your arm or leg into the plastic bag and secure it medical or duct tape.

Of course, depending on where the injury is, it will determine the size of the bag. For broken legs, a plastic garbage bag will do the job.

A rubber band allows the bag to be reused, and it is also much gentler on your skin. Be sure to check the bag for holes, and do not try to submerge the cast.


Plastic Wrap

plastic wrap

Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Plastic wrap can be used to cover a cast, although it must be wrapped tightly. Take special care to ensure a good seal around the top of the cast. This method may leave gaps where water can seep through, but it is an inexpensive and easy method to cover the cast.

Using a rubber band at the top of the cast can help ensure the seal will not leak. Again, refrain from submerging the cast in water, as the seal may not be as tight as you hope.


Cast Covers

Cast cover

Courtesy of Amazon

Several companies make sleeves specifically designed to cover your cast. Some sleeves often include a pump that sucks the air out from under the cover, forming a tight seal against the arm or leg.

Cast covers come in different sizes, and seem to work very well. They are much more durable than other options, and therefore unlikely to tear. These should stay dry even when completely submerged underwater. 

While it may seem like a more significant cost than a simple plastic bag, they are much more durable and more likely to be effective at keeping all of the water out!


Waterproof Cast Material

red cast on someone's arm

Anna Fredriksson / Getty Images

Some cast materials withstand getting wet. While these don't make the cast genuinely waterproof, they can resist getting wet without causing damage to the cast. These waterproof materials work well for kids, especially in the summer months.

There are several types of waterproof cast material. Some seem to work better than others. Unlike the traditional cast, some waterproof casts direct patients to get it wet to keep it clean.

Whether your cast can get wet or not, be careful when showering while injured, and make sure to talk to your doctor about the type of cast and how water affects it.

1 Source
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  1. Nguyen S, McDowell M, Schlechter J. Casting: Pearls and pitfalls learned while caring for children's fracturesWorld J Orthop. 2016;7(9):539-545. doi:10.5312/wjo.v7.i9.539

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.