Each winter brings new concerns for frostbite-related complications in the feet. At Hosey and Murphy Foot & Ankle Centers, with multiple locations in Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, and Mount Clemens, Michigan, the experienced podiatrists offer on-site evaluations of frostbite symptoms and create treatment plans to prevent long-term skin and tissue damage. If you’re exposed to cold temperatures and notice changes in your foot health, don’t delay an evaluation. You can call the Hosey and Murphy Foot & Ankle Centers office nearest you or request a consultation online now.

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What is frostbite?

Frostbite is a side effect of exposure to extreme cold, typically temperatures below 31℉. If you expose parts of your body to cold weather conditions without proper protective clothing, your risk for frostbite increase, especially in sensitive areas of the body, like your hands, nose, and feet.

When in cold weather without protection, the water in your tissues can freeze and form ice crystals, ultimately leading to death of tissue in the exposed area. As the feet and other sensitive areas are farthest away from your core, they are more susceptible to frostbite and the related long-term damage.

Your risk factors for frostbite may be increased if you work in an outdoor job or if you have existing blood circulation issues that limit blood flow to your feet.

What are the symptoms of frostbite?

Exposing your skin unprotected to cold temperatures may initially cause skin irritation and discomfort. Spending prolonged periods in cold temperatures can result in more serious symptoms that indicate frostbite damage, such as:

  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Blistering
  • Pins and needles

Continued exposure can lead to permanent damage on both the surface and deeper layers of your skin tissue. Additionally, you may also experience irreversible damage in your arteries, muscles, tendons, and nerves.

What’s the treatment for frostbite?

When you have mild symptoms, like skin irritation, after spending time in cold weather, it’s important that you focus on warming your feet as soon as possible by soaking them in warm water. You should then ensure your feet are thoroughly dried to reduce your risk for blisters and infection.

Avoid heating your feet with a hair dryer or other dry heat as frostbite-related numbness can increase your risk for unintentional burns. You should also avoid rubbing your feet too harshly, as you can damage your skin without realizing it.

If you experience any of the serious symptoms of frostbite in your feet, you should schedule a diagnostic evaluation at Hosey and Murphy Foot & Ankle Centers as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage.

The skilled physicians can evaluate the severity of your condition and create a treatment plan to prevent additional complications. If you have noticeable blisters or signs of infection, your provider can provide topic medications, oral antibiotics, and bandages. They also continue to monitor the healing of your skin and other tissues to prevent the need for surgical intervention and amputation.

Don’t delay a medical evaluation for suspected frostbite symptoms. You can call the Hosey and Murphy Foot & Ankle Centers nearest you or request an appointment online now.