Winter is beautiful with its snow-covered mountains, icicles, and delicate snowflakes. But with freezing temperatures comes a myriad of safety concerns to watch out for. One of those is frostbite.
Frostbite is damage to the skin and tissue due to prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. The area is usually dehydrated and the skin cells will freeze. If it goes untreated, the tissue can be permanently damaged and extreme cases have required amputation. It most commonly found on your nose, ears, cheeks, fingers and toes. Being able to recognize the following symptoms can help you stop frostbite in its tracks.
- Burning or Sharp Pains
- Bright Red Skin
- White or Gray Skin
- Unusually Firm or Waxy Skin
- Cold Skin
- Loss of Pain
- Blackened Skin
- Hardened Skin
As you recognize the signs of frostbite is extremely important to take action. Get out of the cold and begin to warm up the affected areas immediately. Use the following guidelines to treat the areas:
Use body heat if possible to help warm up the area. Stick frostbitten fingers in your armpits or cover your nose with your hands. Avoid exposing any other skin in the process.
Unless absolutely necessary, avoid walking on or using the affected area.
Also, avoid rubbing the area, as tempting as it may be, as it can damage the skin cells even more.
Don’t use items such as a fireplace, radiator, heating pad or other items to heat the area. Since it is numb, they could easily be burned.
In addition to frostbite, watch for and treat hypothermia, since they are both cold weather emergencies and usually accompany each other.
Seek medical attention! Both hypothermia and frostbite should be monitored and treated by a doctor.
Like all medical conditions, frostbite is best to be avoided. Bundle up and make sure to stay hydrated. Pay attention to those around you and watch for symptoms. If signs do present themselves, take action immediately and follow up with medical care. It’s okay to enjoy the beauty of winter, but above all, be safe and smart.