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FROST BITE! What you need to know....

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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