Temperatures and the accompanying wind chill are creating dangerous situations for anyone who is outdoors with exposed skin. Jody Hoffman, Supervisor of Nursing at Floyd Valley Hospital says frost bite can occur before we even realize any symptoms
She says people may have on light mittens and think their fingers are warm, but they can still get frostbite, as they are not keeping your fingers warm enough. Or Hoffman says a part of your ear may be exposed and it can quickly get frostbite.
Hoffman says the symptoms vary based on the severity of the frostbite. “You’ll feel some burning, numbness, tingling, they may even itch. In milder cases they may become white and they kind of look like they are frozen, and when you press on ’em they don’t really want to indent or anything like that,” Hoffman says.
Left untreated, things can get worse. “In the severe cases the person will not have any sensation, they won’t be able to feel their fingers….swelling will occur, they can get maybe some blood blisters in those areas, the skin will start to become a little discolored, white, yellow looking. They may even turn purple,” Hoffman says.
She says you should not attempt to warm skin if you think it is going to get frozen again. “Rewarming it on an open fire or dry heat is not suggested. But putting the infected fingers in warm water is okay — not hot water,” Hoffman explains.
“Give the individual warm fluids to drink, no caffeine or alcohol is recommend. That will just cause some dehydration and take the fluid away from the fingers. Never massage or rub the affected areas.” Hoffman says you should seek medical treatment when you notice the frostbite symptoms.
By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars