How Do I Know If I Have Frostbite?

Peter Wishnie, D.P.M.
Owner of Family Foot & Ankle Specialists in Piscataway & Hillsborough, NJ

Frostbite is a condition caused by exposing the skin to extremely low or freezing environments. Frostbite effects the parts of the body farthest from the center, usually being the hands or feet. Frostbite is especially common in the feet and toes because feet and toes have a higher chance of being submerged in water or wet from rain or snow. Although most frostbite cases can be easily treated by a professional, you should be seen as soon as possible.

Skiing, sledding, and other winter sports increases your chances of suffering from frostbite, but more commonly everyday activities causes frostbite because people are not well prepared. Shoveling, cleaning off your car, sledding are all major contibutors to frostbite.

What Is It?

Frostbite is caused when the body self preserves by slowing down the blood flow to the farther regions of the body, protecting the essentials to survive. The lack of blood flow causes the tissue in these areas to freeze and the tissue to eventually die.

How Do You Know You Have It?

Many people suffer from frostnip, usually the first step to frostbite. Frostnip causes the skin to feel itchy and burning. The skin will appear blotchy with red and white. If warmed properly, the skin will fully recover since only the outer layers of the skin were effected.In later stages, the effected area will become numb and hard with dark red or purple blisters forming.

Being well prepared and educated on early warning signs you can prevent or treat early signs of frostbite.