When the temperature drops to freezing levels, frostbite becomes a concern for many people. Russell Anderson, D.O., a board-certified emergency medicine physician at Hillcrest, gives tips on how to avoid frostbite or what to do if encountered.
What you need to know about frostbite:
• Frostbite can develop within minutes to hours.
• Commonly occurs from exposure to wind or contact with a cold material such as metal, the ground or water.
• Alcohol predisposes someone to frostbite by impairing judgment and increasing heat loss from dilation of blood vessels.
What are signs of frostbite?
• Areas of the body most frequently affected by frostbite include ears, nose, fingers and toes.
• Patients report feeling cold, numb or have trouble moving the affected body part.
• The skin of frostbite tissue may appear white or gray in color.
What to do if you think frostbite occurs:
• Get to a warm environment.
• Remove wet clothing.
• Place hands and feet in warm water.
What not to do if you think frostbite occurs:
• Avoid walking on frostbitten feet.
• Do not rub frostbitten tissue.
• Do not place hands and feet in hot water.
If you think you are experiencing frostbite, immediately seek medical attention in person or call 911.