As we enter into a cold Tennessee January, we’ve already experienced the first snowfall of 2014. Kids (and teachers) love the fact that it gets them out of school, but these extremely cold temperatures and the snow that may come with it can pose a great danger to your feet and other extremities of your body. A condition called frostbite is easier to fall victim to than you might think. It can occur due to several different conditions including:
- Wearing clothes that aren’t warm enough or don’t offer enough protection against cold, windy, or wet weather.
- Not covering skin when exposed to cold temperatures
- Staying out in the cold for a long period of time
- Touching freezing materials (ie. ice, cold packs, or freezing metal)
Frostbite typically affects smaller, more exposed areas of your body, such as your fingers, toes, ears, nose, and chin. When frostbite strikes the foot, it typically develops in stages beginning with cold toes that turn bright red in color. This first stage is called frostnip, and can be treated by slowly warming your skin with warm water. More severe frostbite, however, can be identified by numbness in the toes and/or by the color of your toes darkening into a purple or blue color, or even a dark black color. This type of frostbite is much more serious and can cause permanent damage to skin, tissues, muscles, and bones that can lead to severe complications.
Although anyone that exposes themselves to cold weather for an extended period of time is at risk for frostbite, there are other factors that may increase that risk which include smoking, dehydration, and diabetics with neuropathy (ie. loss of sensation in the feet). If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, make sure to immediately schedule an appointment at the Advanced Foot and Ankle Care Centers in one of their four middle-Tennessee locations in Nashville, Smyrna or Spring Hill.