ZANESVILLE, OH – Winter weather can bring the threat for a variety of health risks. One danger of prolonged exposure to below freezing temperatures is frostbite.
Pediatrician Kevin Doyle explains there is no magic number for the temperature or length of exposure to which frostbite can occur. Any length of time at temperatures below freezing can pose a threat.
“As just a basic point of logic I would say the colder and colder you get, the higher your risk gets. In a similar fashion, the longer you’re going to be exposed to a cold temperature, the longer you’re going to be outdoors, it raises that risk as well. In addition you also have to take into account if we’re talking about high winds being involved, if we’re talking about liquid or actual wetness being involved because that shoots your risk through the roof too,” Doyle said.
Frostbite, like burns, have a spectrum of degrees of severity. A first degree of frostbite would appear in the reddening or whitening of the exposed area. While not severe, it is still serious and can cause problems. Doyle goes on to explain a more severe degree of frostbite.
“Some of those other more alarming signs or symptoms would be blistering. Especially if we’re talking about blistering with blood involvement. And any time you’re seeing any part of your body turn black, that’s a reason for immediate concern. And unfortunately that comes with the tissue death and injury that happens in frostbite.”
If you believe you might be experiencing frostbite symptoms, a slow warm up of the affected areas is most recommended. If you experience more severe symptoms you should go to the emergency room.
The best way to avoid frostbite is to layer up if you will be exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period of time.