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Family Foot & Ankle

Let It Snow (and Avoid Frostbite)

When most people think of frostbite, they imagine a hiker trapped on a mountain, or travelers stuck in broken car in the middle of a blizzard. Unfortunately, the truth is that most frostbite cases are far more mundane. This condition can even strike on an unremarkably cold and windy mid-winter day right here in Cincinnati, in mere minutes, if you aren’t prepared for it. The risk is especially high for children or older adults, as well as anyone with circulatory problems (a common complication of diabetes, for example).

Here are some of our top tips for avoiding frostbite in the winter cold:

  • Don’t stay out too long. We know you have to get the driveway shoveled, but if you start to feel the cold getting to you, take a break and head back inside.
  • Dress warmly, in layers. The bottom layers should be made of moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you dry, while the outermost layer needs to serve as a windbreaker. Cover your extremities well, as they’re furthest from your core and most likely to freeze when exposed to bitter winds. Gloves or mittens (mittens are warmer), a hat or balaclava that at least covers your ears, and an extra pair of socks are strongly recommended.
  • Stay active. Moving around and exercising will keep you warmer, longer. If you start to feel fingers or toes going numb, wiggle them to get more blood flowing.
  • Stay dry. Damp clothes from rain or snow can cause your body temperature to drop in a hurry. Situations where rain turns to ice as the temperature cools can be particularly dangerous. Make sure you get out of wet and restrictive clothing as quickly as possible, and warm up and dry off before returning outdoors.
  • Alcohol and cold temperatures are a bad mix. Not only does alcohol cause you to lose heat faster, it also can make you feel warmer than you really are. If you’re planning to spend time outdoors later, avoid drinking.

If you do actually start to develop actual frostbite symptoms, though, it’s a game-changer: once tissues begin to freeze and die, you need to get to a hospital and seek medical assistance immediately.

For all your winter foot care needs, including frostbite recovery, trust your toes to Family Foot and Ankle Center in Cincinnati. Our experienced doctors are committed to keep you healthy and active no matter the weather. Dial (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 or use our online contact form and set up an appointment today.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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