There has been an extended cold snap lately and with that comes the potential for frostbite, which often affects the toes. With the winter in full swing, keeping warm is a high priority. We all take measures to protect ourselves when we venture out onto the frozen tundra. In temperatures of 0 degrees with 15mph wind, frostbite may develop in only 30 minutes.
Frostbite as many people know is a condition due to being exposed to cold temperatures. It involves injury and cellular damage due to direct freezing of the tissue. This freezing may result in direct damage due to ice crystal formation or ischemia, i.e. loss of blood flow.
Signs and symptoms of frostbite:
- Firm and hard skin which is cool to the touch
- White, waxy or blotchy blue-grey appearance of the skin
- Blistering of the skin in severe cases
Treatment for frostbite depends on the severity and the area of the body involved. The nose, ears, fingers, and toes are commonly affected. Different modalities for rewarming are necessary dependent on the depth of the frostbite. Additionally, pain management and local wound care for blistered skin may be necessary. Frostbite can be classified by severity and depth of the tissue.
First Degree – Superficial freezing without blistering, peeling is occasionally present.
Second Degree – Superficial freezing with clear blistering.
Third Degree – Deep freezing with death of skin, hemorrhagic blisters, and subcutaneous involvement.
Fourth Degree – Full thickness freezing, resulting in loss of body part.
With Montana winters frostbite is something not to take lightly. Remember to keep your toes warm and dry as moisture contributes to frostbite. It is important to seek medical attention if you feel that frostbite has developed. If you have developed or have concerns about frostbite in you lower extremity, please give us a call at 721-4007 or via the internet at www.alpinefoot.com.