Avoid frostbite by taking precautions  News, sports, jobs

Avoid frostbite by taking precautions News, sports, jobs

Freezing is a devastating disorder of a serious tissue. It is also something that can be avoided. The Michigan Podiatric Medical Association (MPMA) has some advice to share during these winter months.

“When you are out in the cold, your body works hard to stay warm by changing the blood flow to your heart and lungs,” said Dr. Jodie Sengstock, MPMA Director of Professional Relations. “This leaves your extremities – arms, legs and feet – vulnerable to cold injuries, especially toes and fingers.”

Depending on the severity of the exposure, frostbite may affect the skin or the underlying tissue. In most cases, the area becomes numb and feels frozen. The skin will appear waxy, white or grayish. Any exposure should be assessed and treated by a physician.

It is easier to avoid frostbite than to treat it. If you are going out in the bitter cold, be prepared.

– Dress in light, loose layered clothing for ventilation and insulation. Water-repellent fabric is a good coating.

– Make sure your head, hands and feet are properly covered. Mittens are warmer than gloves, and two pairs of socks (wool over light cotton) help keep your feet warm.

– Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine before and while you are outside. These things leave the skin more prone to thermal damage.

– If you get wet, remove wet clothes as soon as possible and get to a warm place.

– Check yourself every half hour or so for signs of frostbite. If your toes, fingers, ears or other body parts feel numb, come on in.

If you think you have frostbite, there are some things you can do right away. However, medical attention must still be sought as soon as possible.

– Take off wet clothes again as soon as possible and come to a warm place. Do not expose the area to cold again.

Avoid rubbing the area and heating with dry heat such as a fire, radiator or heating pad. The affected area is numb and vulnerable to burns.

– Soak the affected area in HOT water for approx. 30 to 45 minutes. This can cause pain, swelling and the color of the skin can change. Hold in the water until the area feels warm and the precipitation returns.

– Warm up the rest of the body by drinking a hot beverage or broth.

– If blisters occur – DO NOT OPEN THEM. Cover with a clean cloth and seek medical attention.

– Do not walk on frozen feet. Keeping your foot raised will also help.

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