With Temperatures dropping below freezing points in the upcoming days frostbite can become a real concern. Frostbite can potentially cause irreversible damage if not caught in time!
What exactly is Frostbite?
Just like liquids turn to ice in freezing temperatures, your toes, fingers, ears and nose can freeze if not properly covered in cold weather. Icicles form in the soft tissues causing damage to cells. Permanent damage can occur in as quickly as 5 minutes in frigid temperatures!
There are Four stages:
Stage 1: Normal
Stage 2: Also known as Frostnip; exposed skin becomes red and sore. May notice some irritation with Pins and Needles sensation.
Stage 3: Superficial Frostbite: Blisters may form but no major damage is seen to deeper layers of skin.
Stage 4: Involves all layers of skin and can cause permanent irreversible damage that may result in amputation.
How can I avoid getting frostbite?
Hands and feet account for 90% of frostbite cases! Frostbite can be prevented by limiting cold exposure and keeping the feet as warm and dry as possible. Make sure you are wearing dry wicking socks to avoid moisture in your feet, followed by a warm lined water proof boot/shoe.
Double socks work well by using a synthetic moisture wicking fabric inner layer (such as polypropylene) and an insulating outer layer such as wool or cashmere.
Change out of wet socks immediately.
Tobacco users and Patients with Diabetes and Peripheral Vascular Diseases should take extra precautions since they are at a higher risk for developing frostbite due to decreased blood flow their hands and feet.
What to do if I think I have frostbite?
Seek Medical care immediately if you think you may be developing frostbite. Move to a warm area and remove constricting or wet shoes and socks and insulate your feet. Do not use hot water, fire, or heating pad because these methods may cause burns to the skin if numbness is present. Your doctor will ask you questions about your exposure to cold including temperature and length of exposure, and will examine you for superficial and deep injury. Prognosis will depend on the extent of injury. The severity of the injury may not be seen until the injured area rewarms.
For more information
Academy foot & ankle specialists
(817) 424- FOOT (3668)