What's Going Around: Frostbite

Published:
Updated:

The wind chill and below freezing temperatures are not only difficult to bear but also dangerous.

This week in our What's Going Around report, some strategies protect yourself and your family as you head out into the elements.

Shivering is the first sign of hypothermia as your body moves muscles to produce heat. Hypothermia means low body temperature and for this condition the core body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Instead of dressing in one bulky layer, experts say it is important to wear multiple thin layers. Dr. Mike Patrick of Nationwide Children’s Hospital said you should also cover skin, “If you're out in these conditions, warm air gets trapped between those layers and acts as insulation.”

Frostbite is another risk because the freezing weather causes tissue damage. Your ears, fingers, toes and the chin are most at risk. If you allow your children to play outside in the cold, Dr. Mike said supervision is critical.

“Younger kids are at more risk mostly because of poor judgment so if it feels numb it doesn't hurt and so you keep pushing and playing.”

Symptoms of frostbite start with your skin appearing pale and feeling numb. The condition progresses to second degree frostbite which includes blistering like what happens when you suffer a burn.

You’ll want to see a doctor because those blisters are susceptible to infection. Second and third-degree frostbite may require a surgical consult to determine if skin grafting or even amputation is necessary.