Chillin Toes

Winter can bring lots of challenges to the human body. The extremities are particularly sensitive to cold temperatures as they are far from the core of our body. Exposure to cold temperatures can cause direct tissue injury, which is call frostbite. Frostbite severity is classified in degrees, similar to thermal burns. First degree is a mild injury of the skin causing numbness burning and redness similar to a sunburn. This usually resolves with rewarming and protection of the area within a few hours to a few days. Second degree frostbite usually results in blister formation in the skin with rewarming. The blisters may burst and result in superficial wounds. These wounds usually heal with proper treatment. Lasting numbness and cold sensitivity may occur. 3rd and 4th degree frostbite occur when the cold injury affects the tissues under the skin as well. These injuries often result in substantial tissue loss. Painless rewarming often indicates irreversible tissue damage to the deeper tissues. Surgical intervention after the wounds have stabilized is often necessary for these deeper cold injuries. As with any injury, prevention is the best medicine. Keeping the feet warm when out doors is essential. Wool or acrylic socks and insulated foot wear should be used when extended time outdoors is planned. Chemical foot warming pads can be placed inside the footwear as well. Should signs or symptoms of frostbite arise, such as numbness, burning, coldness or color changes of the skin, get indoors as soon as possible and re warm the area as fast as possible. Should blisters develop, medical attention should be sought promptly to help minimize long term complications. Should you need help with a cold injury or for winter foot wear recommendations, give our office a call. We are here to help keep you moving all winter long!

Author
Paul Betschart, DPM Dr. Betschart has over 26 years of experience in treating patients of all ages with all kinds of foot and ankle conditions. His mission is to provide you with helpful information about foot and ankle issues and the latest developments in healthcare.

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