Are you aware of the signs and symptoms of frostbite? This winter is halfway over, but the temperatures are still cold. For parts of the country, this year has been colder than many of the last several years. Unfortunately, that added cold puts your body at risk of developing frostbite.
What is Frostbite?
Frostbite is an injury to the skin or underlying tissue as the result of freezing. While you might not think that you could get frostbite, there are situations that could occur to put you at risk. If you become stranded while driving during the bitter cold, you could become frostbite. Other situations where you could get frostbite could be trying to keep up with your exercise outside when it is too cold. It is understandable that you are getting stir crazy during the long winter months but waiting until the temperatures rise closer to 32 degrees rather than hovering around 0 degrees to go for a cycling ride is probably a good idea.
Exposed Body Parts
What areas of the body are most likely to get frostbite? The areas exposed to the air are the area’s most likely to develop frostbite. Those areas include the face, nose, ears, and fingers. In addition, other areas that are not exposed are also at risk for frostbite. For example, your toes are at a greater risk. When your feet are not properly covered for freezing cold temperatures and you would happen to have to walk somewhere, your toes could become frostbite. In addition, be very careful when in the cold to avoid water. If you get any of your body parts wet in the freezing cold, your chance of developing frostbite is increased.
Symptoms of Frostbite
What does your skin look like when it becomes frostbite? Your skin will start out cold and red, then will turn numb, lastly, the skin will become hard and pale. The first stage of frostbite is called frostnip. With frostnip, you can quickly overcome the symptoms by warming the skin and no permanent damage will occur. However, with frostbite, you will need to get medical attention due to the potential complications. What complications can develop? Damage can occur to the skin, muscle, tissues, and bones.
Previously, the symptoms of frostbite some of the symptoms of frostbite were described. Let’s go over the full list so that you can be prepared to know which situations require immediate medical attention.
Progression of Frostbite
When frostbite first begins to develop, your skin will be cold and begin to tingle or prickle. After that symptom, you will begin to feel numb and your skin will turn red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow. As frostbite worsens, your skin will become hard and waxy looking and you will have difficulty moving due to the stiffness in the joints. Upon rewarming, your skin can develop blisters in very severe cases.
When to Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention any time your skin turns white or pale, has numbness, or develops blisters from the cold. In addition, you should seek medical attention if there is increased redness or swelling at the site of concern. Lastly, you would want to seek medical attention if you develop a fever or any other unusual symptoms.
It is important to know the symptoms of frostbite to prepare yourself to get medical attention if needed. Many people underestimate the cold and don’t dress appropriately. If you are going to be traveling whether walking, cycling, or driving, during harsh weather conditions, you should take proper precautions for safety. You don’t want to be stranded alongside the road in the cold. However, you are aware of the symptoms to look for if you would happen to get stranded in the cold.