Although the Chicago area has been experiencing a mild winter so far, it’s still possible to get frostbite from prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures.
Frostbite occurs when the skin and body tissue are exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. Wet skin or clothing, combined with wind, accelerate the injury process. People with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease are at a higher risk for developing this condition.
Look for these symptoms:
- White, gray or yellow skin
- Firm or waxy skin
- Lacking sensation or ability to feel
“Frostbite progresses in stages just like a thermal burn, so numbness appears before deeper injury and should be a signal to take corrective action, such as seeking warm shelter,” said Dr. George Geis, emergency physician on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Outpatient Centers.
Geis offers these tips for prevention:
- Dress in layers, avoiding overly tight clothing
- Stay indoors shortly after showering
- Go inside at regular intervals
- Keep dry
Frostnip is a similar condition where the superficial tissues are frozen and need to be re-warmed.
“In terms of re-warming, use warm (100 - 105 degrees) but not hot water and do not massage the area to promote circulation,” Geis said.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a physician on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1.800.323.8622) or visit www.advocatehealth.com/gsam.
Courtesy of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
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