Frostbite Warning Signs

In the Podiatry world, it’s the start of frostbite season. As the snow begins to fall and the temperature begins to drop, for many reasons we are drawn outdoors.

Frostbite is the freezing of skin and other soft tissues. It occurs most frequently to exposed areas, but even toes and feet covered with boots are susceptible. Why?

Prolonged exposure to cold causes the tiny arteries that supply blood to our skin to constrict. They can constrict so much that blood can no longer pass. Without blood, the skin and soft tissues lack oxygen, called hypoxia, and begin to suffer.  Frostbite is the first sign. If the cold exposure continues, frostbite may progress to much more serious conditions such as gangrene.

Signs of frostbite are redness of the exposed skin or numbness of covered body parts.

Initial treatment of frostbite should be moving indoors to a warm place. Affected body parts should initially be warmed with body heat (ie. warm hands, arm pits, etc.).  Following this initial warming, a warm water bath should be used.

Avoid the following:

  1. Do not rub or massage the area.
  2. Do not walk on frostbitten feet until they are warmed.
  3. Do not use a heating lamp or pad.

You should be concerned if after a few hours of warming, the affected body part still demonstrates numbness or has a slight white or grey discoloration. If this is the case, medical treatment should be sought.

We are available and are experts in caring for frostbite of the feet. You can make an appointment by calling 810-629-3338 (FEET)