Frigid Central Indiana Temperatures Create the Possibility of Frostbite

Eskenazi Health offers advice on how to avoid cold weather injuries

Indianapolis, Jan. 2, 2018 – Frostbite is a huge concern for those who don’t take proper precautions during this brutally frigid winter season, and the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health is offering suggestions on how to avoid the terrible discomfort of frostbite and other cold weather injuries.

Frostbite is caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues caused by extreme cold weather. If you notice your skin becoming very cold and red, then numb, hard and pale, those are the early signs of frostbite, which is most commonly found on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Although frostbite is most common on exposed skin in cold, windy weather, it may also be found on skin covered by gloves or other clothing.

Similar to burn injures, damage to the skin can be very serious and can occur quickly. When wind chills dip into the negatives, frostbite can set in within minutes. Because of skin numbness, you may not realize you have frostbite until someone else points it out.

“In the winter months, our burn center sees a number of patients with frostbite injuries as a result of extreme cold and snowy and icy conditions,” said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center. “Taking precautions is the key to avoiding dangerous frostbite injuries, and it’s essential that we all take the proper measures to avoid the frigid cold air and bitter winds we experience this time of year.”

Dr. Sood emphasized that, like many burn injuries, frostbite can be avoided. It is important to properly protect yourself against frostbite and other cold-related injuries that accompany the winter weather by wearing appropriate protective clothing.

By adding extra cover to more commonly affected areas, such as the nose, fingers, toes and ears, you may shield your skin from brutally cold weather. Dressing in warm layers with scarves, hats, gloves and boots is always advisable, and it’s recommended that you wear a waterproof outer shell. Be mindful that the bitter winter winds will cause frostbite to accelerate and set in more quickly. 

Frostbite symptoms include a tingling sensation, followed by numbness on the affected area. Skin where frostbite has set in will be hard, pale and cold and will have no feeling. In more severe frostbite cases, the skin will become white and numb and may also have blisters, and blackened or dead tissue may result. Unchecked frostbite can potentially cause damage to tendons, muscles, nerves and bone.

If you feel symptoms of frostbite, doctors suggest refraining from rubbing or massaging the affected area, as it may cause further damage to the skin. Move to a warm area, remove all wet clothing and apply dry, sterile dressings to the frostbitten skin. If the symptoms are severe and normal color and feeling do not return to the area, contact a health care professional immediately. 

Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center treats more than 350 inpatients each year in addition to more than 4,200 outpatient visits with patients from across the country. The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States and is located above the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department at Eskenazi Health and the Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health.

For more information about the unit or burn prevention, please call 317.880.6900.


CONTACT: Tom Surber
Phone: 317.880.4793
Cell: 317.402.9327
Pager: 317.310.5972 

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