In Lake, Cooke and Roselle-Dupage counties, frigid temperatures and windy days are common in January. At Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, we want to remind patients that frostbite can occur more quickly than you think. Even skin that is covered can get frostbite if you are out in freezing conditions. Your body reacts to the cold by constricting its blood vessels which restricts the flow of blood and oxygen. This makes it easier for the water in your skin to freeze and damage to occur. The most common sites for frostbite are toes, fingers, ears, nose, cheek and chin.
Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Frostbite
- Wear multiple layers. The air that is trapped between the layers acts as insulation against the cold. Choose a thin, moisture-wicking sock or sock liner to go against your skin and then add a thicker, warm sock on top. You can also use foot warmers, but be sure they don’t make your boots too tight as this will reduce your circulation.
- Watch the weather. Pay attention to both the temperature and wind chill predictions. On very cold days, limit the amount of time you spend outdoors and take breaks to go inside and warm up.
- Check yourself periodically for signs of frostbite. Initial symptoms include red or very pale skin color and sensations of prickliness or numbness. If you experience these, get to a warmer place immediately.
- Don’t drink alcohol when out in the cold. Although alcohol may give the illusion of helping you feel warm, it actually causes your body to lose heat faster.
- Before outdoor winter activities, be sure you have eaten a nutritious meal and have been drinking plenty of water so that you are well-hydrated. This will help you stay warm by giving your body the proper fuel.
- If you suspect you may have frostbite on your feet, contact our Bannockburn, Orland Park, Roselle or any of our other 16 conveniently located offices as soon as possible. Until one of our podiatrists can examine your feet, try to walk as little as possible and keep your feet protected from any further exposure to the cold.