Monday, June 15, 2015

Be Careful How You Scratch that Itch, Orthopaedic Surgeon Says

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Spring weather signals the start of many outdoor activities as people of all ages eagerly embrace the change in weather. Paul Prinz, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System says, "Broken bones and fractures occur year 'round but the change in seasons always creates an increase of patients in our offices."

6.8 million broken bones and fractures are reported each year in the United States and the number is growing due in part to an older, active population of “baby boomers.” “A cast is still the most common treatment for healing bones, and complaints about itching are among the most common,” said Dr. Prinz.

Accidents happen and bones get broken but Dr. Prinz says that maintaining good health practices while healing in a cast is especially important. "Never stick anything into your cast to scratch an itch. Never. I have had to remove casts to retrieve items such as pencils, pens, coins and toys," he said.

Dr. Prinz is no longer surprised when he removes casts and finds objects. "The bone may be safely healed but scratching techniques can cause skin infections that require additional medical care," he said. "The skin is very delicate and sensitive when it is protected by a cast and is very easy to injure. Objects can create wounds which may lead to infection, " Dr. Prinz warns. He also says that healing skin wounds will increase the itch factor.

Tips For Itch Relief Dr. Prinz advises patients to keep the cast clean and dry, and often uses a waterproof cast to prevent irritation. Here are Dr. Prinz's top tips for comfort when you sport a cast: 1. "Use a watertight wrap to keep the cast dry during showers."

2. "Consult your physician and ask if an over-the-counter antihistamine can be safely used to minimize irritations."

3. "Avoid beaches, sandboxes and other areas that can easily allow debris to get in the cast."

4. "Elevate the limb to decrease swelling that could cause tightness in the cast."

It is not unusual for a cast to smell. "Talk to your physician about your concerns," said Dr. Prinz. "Keep the cast dry and as clean as possible. The warm-up in weather makes everyone want to get outdoors and get active, even when wearing a cast, but you'll heal faster and more comfortably if you slow down and take it easy."

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.