Frostbite: What Are the Signs and How Can I Keep My Feet Safe this Winter?
Winter is coming on fast and with the cold weather and snow come winter sports and outdoor activities. Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and just plain old-fashioned snowball fights are a lot of fun, but it is important to remember to bundle up and wear the appropriate shoes and clothing when you are heading out the door and into the snow.
Frostbite of the foot is a serious condition caused by extreme, prolonged exposure to cold. Your feet are one of the most likely places on the body to suffer from the condition. Other parts of the body vulnerable to frostbite are the hands, nose, cheeks and ears.
Because of the size of their extremities and/or poor circulation, children, the elderly, and diabetics are more prone to frostbite, so if you are in one of those groups, you need to be extra cautious when you are out in the cold weather. Also, people who live or work outside and people who have a history of frostbite are more likely to suffer from the condition.
In the beginning, frostbite produces pain and a burning sensation in the exposed area. These feelings are followed by numbness in the toes and/or feet and changes in skin color. Your skin will change from pale or red to bluish-gray or black.
If only the skin and subcutaneous tissues are affected by the frostbite, the injuries caused are known as superficial frostbite injuries. If the muscles, nerves, bones, or tendons are affected by the frostbite, the injuries are known as deep frostbite injuries.
The extent of the injuries and the damage done by the frostbite determine the prognosis.
To help prevent frostbite, make sure you wear protective clothing and shoes that provide warmth and insulation. Also, stay hydrated and if your feet start to show signs of frostbite, such as pain, burning or numbness, stop what you are doing and go warm your feet up immediately.
Here are some tips from the National Safety Council to limit the extent of frostbite damage:
- If you notice any symptoms of frostbite in yourself or another, get the victim out of the cold and into a warm place immediately.
- Remove any constrictive clothing or jewelry items that could impair circulation.
- Place dry, sterile gauze between fingers and toes to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together.
- Slightly elevate affected areas to reduce pain and swelling.
If you believe you are suffering from frostbite, it is imperative that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Once you get into a warm environment, keep your feet dry and warm and don’t expose your flesh to extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. You should warm your feet gradually and steadily.
If you would more information or if you would like to set up an appointment with our office, you can contact us at 615-220-8788 or you can request an appointment online.
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