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We’re in a Polar Vortex which is downright cold for all of us but especially dangerous for Diabetics, small children and the elderly. With the incredibly low temperatures, it’s important to be aware of Frostbite and Frostnip and how to treat it if you or a loved one is affected.
Frostbite is tissue damage caused by cold and is rated according to severity; first, second, and third degree. Skin turns white, blue or mottled and feels frozen. Frostnip is the mildest level of frostbite. Skin will look pale and feel cold, numb and stiff.
Frostnip can easily be treated at home. If you think you may have the symptoms of frostnip, get out of the cold as soon as possible. Immerse the affected area in warm water (100º to 105º Fahrenheit) to thaw the frozen tissue. As an alternative, use your own body heat to warm the area. Do not use vigorous (rubbing) or high heat methods (heating pad, stove, water hotter than 105 º, etc.) to avoid burning the skin.
If the skin tingles and burns as it warms, your circulation is returning. The skin may turn red, but should not blister or swell. If the skin does not seem to warm, if it remains numb, or if it blisters or swells, seek immediate medical attention as you may be suffering from Frostbite.
Frostbite requires emergency medical care. If you think you may have frostbite, get out of the cold as soon as possible. If you cannot get medical help immediately and there's no risk that the area might be re-frozen before you get help, warm the affected area as you would for frostnip.
Protect your feet and toes by wearing two pairs of socks and choosing appropriate footwear. The first pair of socks, next to your skin, should be made of moisture-wicking fabric. Wear a pair of wool or wool-blend socks on top of those. Your boots should also provide adequate insulation. They should be waterproof and cover your ankles. Make sure that nothing feels tight, as tight clothing increases the risk of frostbite. And limit your time outdoors as an extra precaution.