Frostbite is a serious problem that many people tend not to think about. You may have a mild case without even knowing it, so it becomes quite important for you to recognize the symptoms. When you are subjected to intense cold, pay careful attention to your skin. If it has turned pale or red, hard or waxy looking, and is accompanied by a prickling feeling or numbness you probably have frostbite. At this point you should seek medical attention to find out how severe your case is and if you require treatment. You also need to be aware if you have developed hypothermia, which is marked by drowsiness, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and intense shivering.
If you know you’re going to be out in the cold for an extended period of time it is important to take safety measures for the prevention of frostbite and hypothermia. A key precaution is to keep your skin covered from the cold, especially with regard to your appendages. Fingers, toes, and noses are very susceptible to sustaining frostbite, so make sure they are covered and warm.
Once you are back in a warm environment remove all of your wet clothes and replace them with dry ones. Sit near a source of warmth, but don’t get too close if that source happens to be a fireplace. Allow your limbs to warm up gradually. If your toes are afflicted try not to walk as that can further damage them. As your skin warms up it may become red, this is a good sign and means that the blood is flowing to that area again. If you have numbing and tingling that doesn’t go away, or blisters begin to form, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Frostbite should not be ignored. Call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our North Andover, MA office if you find yourself with questions.