With record lows predicted for this New Year’s Eve there is a greater risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite often starts out with numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation in the exposed extremities or skin. The areas at most risk are ears, cheeks, the nose, the chin, fingers, and toes.
As the frostbite progresses skin will begin to form fluid filled blisters, appear cyanotic (blueish), and have a “waxy” appearance as perfusion to the extremities and oxygen saturation decreases. With continued lack of perfusion and low oxygenation to the tissues, irreversible cell damage occurs.
Treatment consists of correcting the hypothermia first with gentle re-warming of the patients core and extremities in warm water baths. It is important to not massage the areas effected and to not warm areas rapidly with heating pads or electric blankets because these can lead to increased cell damage. Burn clinics and specialists should also be consulted early to help with patient follow-up, provide wound care, and help prevent infections.
So I hope everyone stays bundled up and warm this New Year’s Eve!