Staying warm in these arctic temps can really be a difficult feat to beat. To help you battle the weather and prevent frostbite, Doctor Radio‘s Medical Director Dr. Marc Siegel, has gathered up important tips that everyone should know.

So what is frostbite exactly? It’s literally a freezing of the skin that can cause similar damage to that of a burn, resulting in a loss of feeling and color to the affected skin. This is especially dangerous for those with circulation problems, children, the elderly, or even those who have to be outside for several minutes at a time. Be sure to bundle up and pay special attention to keeping the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes warm, as they are the most commonly affected areas. Frostbite isn’t something to be taken lightly, it can lead to permanent damage, and in severe cases, even amputation. Thankfully, clot-busting drugs can at times be used in preventing amputation.

What does frostbite look like? Be sure to keep an eye out for the very first signs of redness and pain in your skin. If this occurs, be sure to get indoors and away from the cold, or at the very least protect exposed skin. Frostbite can make the skin appear red, white or even a grayish-yellow, and have the affected area feeling rubbery and overall numb. If these symptoms occur, be sure to get medical attention as soon as you can as life-threatening conditions like hypothermia can occur. Be aware of confusion and fatigue as the body tends to cut off circulation to extremities as its way of preserving blood flow for vital internal organs like the brain.

If you have frostbite but there aren’t any signs of hypothermia here are some tips you should follow:

  • Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
  • Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible as this increases the damage.
  • Immerse the affected area in warm water and also body heat.
  • Do not massage the area as it can cause more damage.
  • Don’t use a heating pad or the heat of a stove or fireplace. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

Bundle up, be warm and stay safe out there!

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