Brutally cold temperatures during the winter season are uncomfortable, but can often be dangerous when considering the higher risk of frostbite and hypothermia. The currently chilly temperatures throughout the northern parts of the nation are expected to dip further into the single-digits this week. With these brutally cold forecasts ahead, the public is advised to take extreme precautions when venturing outdoors for work, school, social events or exercise.
While covering bare skin with ample layers, thick gloves and wool hats minimizes your susceptibility to frostbite, consider the following early warning signs of frostbite in the order they typically manifest:
- Pins and needles
- Throbbing or aching
- Hard, pale or cold skin
- White appearance
Tips for Treating Frostbite
If you’re experiencing all or a few of the above frostbite symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub or massage the area as this can increase your risk of permanent skin damage and scarring. In addition, attempting to “thaw out” your skin could do more harm than good. If you cannot get to a warm area and frostbite returns, you could further injure the skin and nerves. Do not attempt to thaw skin with direct heat from a hair dryer, radiator, heating pad or fire. Introducing high levels of heat can further harm the delicate dermis. While healing, do not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes as these agents limit blood circulation and prevent proper recovery.
The best way to eliminate your susceptibility is by taking preemptive measures before spending more than a few minutes outdoors. In sub-zero temperatures, skin can freeze in just 15 minutes. Wear mittens or gloves, windproof and water resistant outerwear, thermal leggings or undershirts, two pairs of socks, scarves to protect your décolleté and hats to minimize heat loss via the scalp.
If you have experienced frostbite and suffer from scarring after healing, contact Dr. Mariano Busso’s office at 305-857-0144 or schedule an appointment online.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Sami’