It is pretty obvious that it is freezing in many parts of the U.S. This isn't just uncomfortable, it is also dangerous where it can cause frostbite, which is the actual freezing of your skin. This can affect any part of your body with your ears, nose, fingers and toes most at risk. To help us better understand the signs of frostbite, we learned some tips from Dr. Janet Prystowsky, a board certified Dermatologist with 25 years-experience in New York, NY, who shared some tips to help you better understand how to protect and understand the signs of frostbite.
Tips on what to do after you get in from the cold:
- Once the person is out of the cold and not at risk of re-freezing, remove any tight clothing or shoes/boots that are in the area of cold skin.
- Quickly warm areas suspected of mild frostbite quickly by applying warm (like a warm bath, e.g. 104 degrees F) compresses to the affected area or submerging the affected area into a bath or container of warm water.
- Do not use hot water or hot items (e.g. metal) directly on the skin. In addition do not massage the area as that will potentially cause damage if ice crystals have formed in the tissue.
- Rest the skin area and cover with a sterile gauze dressing. Meanwhile, the person should consume warm beverages to help increase the core body temperature and replace fluids.
- The true extent of damage from the cold is not immediately apparent. If after warming the tissue, there is persistent numbness, the color or texture of the skin does not return to normal, or there is significant pain, seek medical attention.
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The first signs of frostbite are:
- Stinging or tingling sensations of the affected area
- Reduced blood flow
- Pale, white or grey skin
- Avoid frostbite by keeping your skin healthy and protected with warm clothing
- Do not stay out in below freezing temperatures for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time
- If you do detect frostbite, move to a warm area and seek medical help immediately.
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