As we continue on with winter and the drop in temperature it brings, not to mention the dumping of snow, frostbite is definitely something to worry about. Not only do you need to worry about your extremities like your hands, ears, and nose, you also need to be considering your feet, when stepping out into the sludge. In this blog post today, we will discuss frostbite symptoms, prevention measures, and how to treat frostbite. One of the preventive steps you can take is using the SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer that has a built-in fan, drying your shoes overnight so by the next day, you have clean, dry shoes that are ready to be used again! We’ll discuss that further in the blog, but if you would like more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can also learn more by visiting our shop.

What is Frostbite?

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin, and is most common in the fingers, toes, nose, toes, cheeks, and chin. It can happen when the feet are cold and wet, and may be associated with hypothermia, which is when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Skin exposed to cold, windy weather is the most vulnerable to frostbite, but it can also occur on skin covered by gloves and shoes, especially if the clothes are wet. Symptoms may include changes in skin color from white to red to blue, numbness, burning, blisters, swelling, or a rubbery, waxy appearance. 

Frostnip is a milder form of cold injury that doesn’t cause permanent skin damage. You can treat frostnip with first-aid measures, like rewarming the affected skin. All other frostbite requires medical attention because it can damage skin, tissues, muscle, and bones. More severe frostbite can lead to infection and nerve damage.


Symptoms of Frostbite

The symptoms of frostbite progress in three different stages. The colder the temperature and the longer the body is exposed to freezing conditions, the more severe the symptoms become. The early stage of frostbite, as discussed briefly above, is frostnip. During this milder stage, you will experience pins and needles, throbbing or aching in the affected, and your skin will become cold, numb, and white. This early stage mostly affects people who live or work in cold climates, and the fingertips, nose, ears, and toes are most commonly affected.

The next stage, known as superficial frostbite, affects the top layers of the skin and tissue. It is characterized by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, which can cause more tissue damage. Your skin will turn red and blister once tissue has thawed once out of the cold. It may also be swelling and itching, not to mention painful.

The advanced stage occurs when exposure to the cold continues. During this stage in which frostbite becomes increasingly more severe, the skin becomes white, blue, or blotchy, and the tissue underneath feels hard and cold to the touch. As the skin thaws, blood-filled blisters form and turn into thick, black scabs. At this stage, it is likely that some tissue will die, which is called tissue necrosis, and the affected tissue may need to be removed to prevent infection.


Other Cold Weather Injuries

Chilblains is a milder form of cold weather injury that occurs when skin has been exposed to cold, wet, and windy weather conditions. It can cause red, dry, rough, swollen skin, and little red bumps may form that can ulcerate. Symptoms may remain throughout the cold weather and resolve when the warmer weather returns, but the problem can also be helped by keeping warm layers on and applying lotion to protect the skin from becoming rough and dry. It can be common among people who spend a lot of time doing recreational winter activities. 


Trench Foot

Trench foot is another cold weather condition that can be found in people in the military, hunters, and fishermen. It can occur when people have been in a cold, wet environment for a prolonged amount of time, usually over 10 hours. Their skin temperatures are usually lower, and their feet may appear white, swollen, or bluish. Feet may also develop blisters and can develop a permanent sensitivity to cold.


How You Can Prevent Frostbite

To prevent frostbite, it is important that you prepare yourself for the cold temperatures. Dress in insulated clothing, and dress in layers. Wearing warm socks, perhaps even two pairs, can make a big difference in how your feet are affected by the winter weather. Choose an inner layer sock made of synthetic fiber (not cotton, which is absorbent) because it will wick away water from the skin. Wool may be the best outer layer of socks because it increases insulation. Your shoes or boots should be waterproof and insulated, for maximum protection. 

Another excellent addition to add to your winter weather protection is our shoe sanitizer insert that has a built-in fan to ensure that your winter shoes not only get sanitized but are also dried out. The last thing you want to do is slip your feet into a cold and damp pair of shoes before stepping out into the cold — do something for you and your feet by shopping SteriShoe.

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