While many Americans do not usually need to worry about winter thanks to their warm winters, many have very real winter worries, such as snow, ice and frostbite. But what is frostbite? How can you protect yourself from it? Learn more about frostbite with Idaho Foot and Ankle Associates with offices in Boise, Nampa and Meridian, ID.
What is frostbite?
Frostbite occurs when the skin and the layers of tissue underneath become frozen from exposure to the cold. Due to their locations, the fingers, toes and feet are most often affected by frostbite. Nose, cheeks and ears, which are often more exposed than other extremities, are also susceptible to frostbite.
Do I have frostbite?
Frostbite begins with your skin feeling very cold. As it progresses, the skin turns red, then loses feeling and becomes numb. It may also appear pale or feel hard to the touch. The first stages of frostbite, called frostnip, will not cause permanent damage to the skin. The next stage, known as superficial frostbite, occurs when ice crystals form within the skin’s tissues, causing the skin to feel warm or eventually produce a blister. Severe frostbite occurs when all of the layers of skin become affected, causing you to feel warm. You will also feel pain and discomfort, and the tissue eventually dies and turns black.
Preventing frostbite is as easy as protecting your exposed skin. Be sure to limit your time outside in very cold weather and dress in layers. Be sure to wear socks and liners which will keep your feet warm and use foot warmers if necessary. Wearing mittens will keep your hands warm. Avoid drinking alcohol if you know you will be outdoors in very cold weather and stay hydrated. The risk for frostbite rises greatly when the weather gets down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frostbite Treatments in Boise, Nampa and Meridian, ID
If caught in the frostnip stage, simply warming up may be enough to treat your frostbite. If you notice the symptoms of frostbite, take immediate shelter from the cold, let the affected area air dry without rubbing or massaging it, and change any wet clothes for dry clothes to allow the area to thaw on its own. More severe cases of frostbite will require medical treatments like painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications. Fluids given will help rehydrate the patient. A surgeon may also need to drain any blisters which have formed.
For more information on frostbite, please contact your podiatrist at Idaho Foot and Ankle Associates. Call (208) 327-0627 to schedule your appointment at the Boise, ID office, (208) 463-1660 to schedule your appointment at the Nampa, ID office or (208) 888-9876 to schedule your appointment at the Boise, Nampa and Meridian, ID office today!