Plaster casts are used to immobilize broken bones while they heal and to stretch body parts into their proper position, like casting to correct club feet. Fracture casts are typically removed in the doctor's office with a vibrating cast saw, specifically designed to protect the underlying skin from being cut. Occasionally you might need to remove the cast yourself, particularly if it is compromising blood circulation. Casting to correct deformities is usually done in a series -- a cast is worn for one or two weeks, removed and a new cast is applied in the newly stretched position. These types of casts are sometimes removed at home -- particularly for children who might be scared of a cast saw. Plaster casts can be removed in a few steps.
Fill the bucket with warm water, deep enough to fully submerge the cast. Add one tablespoon of vinegar to the water to break down the plaster material.
Soak the cast until the plaster begins to loosen. Grab a loose piece and unwrap the layers. This process can take up to 1-2 hours to complete.
Wash your skin with soap and water when the cast is removed. Dump the bucket water outside to prevent the plaster from clogging a drain inside the house.
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Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.