Now that the weather is getting colder, there are new
concerns for the health of your feet.
All too often we at Livingston Foot Care Specialists see cases of
painful frostbite. Frostbite happens
when the skin is exposed to freezing temperatures. The body tissue actually
freezes and ice crystals form within the frozen body
part. Blood cannot flow through the frozen tissue and the tissue becomes
deprived of blood and oxygen. The combination of freezing and oxygen
deprivation causes tissue damage or tissue death. Ironically, extreme care has
to be taken in rewarming the tissue or further damage can result.
The risk factors for frostbite include medical conditions
such as thyroid problems, infection,, disease of the blood vessels, arthritis
and diabetes. Other risks factors are exposure to freezing temperatures without
adequate covering, low body temperature, age (the very young and very old are
more often affected,) fatigue, wearing wet clothing or working in freezing
conditions. Ironically, temperature at 32 degrees Fahrenheit can be low enough
to cause frostbite. Frostbite most frequently affects the parts of the body
furthest from the heart which is why the feet are frequently affected.
There are three degrees of frostbite. The first degree is
frostnip and only affects the surface skin. There is itching and pain and the
skin develops white, red and yellow patches. In second degree frostbite, the
skin may freeze and harden. Blisters form and may become hard and blackened but
they usually heal in about one month. In
third and fourth degree frostbite, the muscles, tendons, blood vessels and
nerves freeze. The skin is hard and feels waxy. Purplish blisters are generally
blood-filled. Nerve damage in the area can result in a loss of feeling. In the
most severe cases gangrene can result and lead to amputations.
Treatment for frostbite centers on rewarming the affected
area slowly with restriction of movement which can cause the ice crystals that
have formed in the tissue to do further damage. Splinting and/or wrapping
frostbitten extremities are recommended to prevent damaging movement. Rubbing,
massaging, shaking or otherwise applying physical force to frostbitten tissues
in an attempt to rewarm them can be harmful.
Using any type of device to rewarm the affected area should only be
performed under proper medical supervision.
The doctors at Livingston Foot Care Specialists have been
trained to properly diagnose and treat all conditions affecting your feet and
they urge you to take proper precautions to protect your feet. Call Livingston Foot Care Specialists
at 1685 Newbridge Road, North Bellmore, 516-826-0103 to address any concerns
you may have regarding your foot health.
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