When the temperatures plummet to single and even negative digits, it doesn’t take long for frostbite to set in. Doctor Tom Waters is an emergency department physician at Cleveland Clinic. He says that frostbite occurs when the soft tissues of the skin begin to freeze.
Doctor Waters says that frostbite most commonly effects the extremities, like the fingers, nose, toes and face. Symptoms of frostbite include pain in the affected area, as well as discoloration of the skin. The extent of frostbite damage can depend on just how cold the temperature is and how long someone is exposed. Waters says that the colder it is, the quicker frostbite can occur, and says that young children and the elderly, as well as those who have chronic illness or spend a lot of time outdoors are most susceptible to frostbite.
If you suspect that someone has frostbite, Waters says it’s vital to get them indoors as soon as possible and then get to the emergency department to get them checked by a physician, because the damage can be worse than it appears.
The key to preventing frostbite is to limit your time outdoors during dangerously cold temperatures. If you do have to venture outdoors, it’s important to keep extremities like the hands, ears and face covered and dry.