Temperatures and windchills are expected to stay below zero throughout today and the Iowa Department of Public Health says that leaves open the potential for frostbite, and other conditions. Iowa Department of Public Health medical director, Patricia Quinlisk, says frostbite is something that can sneak up on you.
She says exposed skin can freeze so quickly that you don’t even realize it is freezing. Quinlisk says it happens so fast and the process makes it tough to tell what’s going on. "It actually goes numb so you don’t feel it freezing, and so sometimes when you have frostbite and your skin freezes, it’s other people that will look at you and say ‘why is your nose turning grey?’, " Quinlisk says.
She says if you have hypothermia, you will know it because you will feel cold and start shaking. Quinlisk says you should cover up when going out. Quinlisk says wear hats that go over your ears, scarves that cover your face, along with a warm coat, good gloves and boots. She says the best way to avoid problems is to go outside only for the absolute minimum you need to be outside to do what you have to do.
Quinlisk says there’s a lot of wrong ideas out there about what to do if find that you have skin that’s frozen. "Do not rub it with snow or anything else, don’t massage it at all," Quinlisk says. And don’t put something that’s really hot on the area, as she says people with frostbite often burn themselves because they can’t feel the skin.
Quinlisk says you need to put the affected area on something that is around 104 degrees or body temperature. So, if your fingers feel frostbitten, put them in your armpit. Quinlisk says you may have to see medical treatment.
Quinlisk says if the color does not come back to the skin quickly, or if you are in a lot of pain, you should call the doctor. She says you could end up with scaring and could lose fingers and toes or the tip of your nose. You can find more information on frostbite on the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website .