Health Watch: Frostbite
Frostbite is a cold-weather injury that can affect any part of the body when it is exposed to cold enough temperatures for enough time. The lower the temperature the less time it takes to cause injury. You can recognize when you are becoming frost-bitten or at risk for serious cold injury when you notice your skin turning red and stinging or if you feel a throbbing sensation. If your skin becomes numb this is a dangerous sign and you need to head indoors immediately. Here are a few ways to prevent frostbite. First, protect those areas furthest from your trunk and most likely to be exposed including your feet, toes, hands, and head. When you are putting your cold-weather gear on making sure you put it on in such a way that snow can not get inside. Snow inside your sleeves, gloves, and boots leads to wet clothing and skin which will pull heat away from your skin and increase your risk for cold injuries. Be sure to dress in layers and keep them loose the first layer should be moisture-wicking to pull that moisture away from your body and the next layer should be insulating ideally with wool or wool blend materials, the top layer should be waterproof. With keeping that moisture loose you will trap warm air next to your body. Finally stay hydrated, dehydration can increase your risk of frostbite and avoid trying to hydrate with alcoholic beverages as alcohol can dull the senses and keep you from realizing you are becoming too cold. If you do think you have frostbite obviously get out of that cold environment and go somewhere warm immediately. Get any cold or sweaty clothes off of the affected skin. Be sure not to rub the affected skin too vigorously, dip the affected skin in hot water or hold the affected skin too close to a fire as you may have lost sensation in that area and not know you are hurting yourself. Instead, use warm water or place a warm washcloth on your skin. If sensation does not come back if blister form or your skin turns grey go to your provider's office or the emergency room for evaluation. This is Dr. Kyle Laron.