Frostbite can strike your ears, nose, fingers, and toes when you’re outside in the cold for a long time, or if your skin isn’t well protected against freezing temperatures. And while the winter of 2020 may not go down in history as the coldest ever in northeastern Ohio, temperatures are still hovering around the freezing point or just below.
“Frostbite” literally means frozen skin. The skin on your toes is particularly susceptible to freezing because it’s so far away from the heart. When your body gets cold, the vessels in your toes constrict so that blood flows to more important body parts like your brain and heart. That’s great for keeping you alive, but your extremities suffer.
If you must venture outside in the cold, here’s how to protect your feet from frostbite:
- Cover them in gear that keeps them warm and dry. Wear one layer of light, moisture-wicking socks and a second layer of heavier socks. Wear insulated, waterproof boots that fit snugly to keep snow and dampness out.
- Eat well and drink water. Before you go outside, give your body the best chance to keep itself warm by providing it with enough fuel and hydration.
- Stay inside when the weather’s frigid. In extremely cold and windy conditions, frostbite can begin in a matter of minutes.
The risk of frostbite increases for young children, the elderly, diabetics, the homeless, outside laborers, and others who must spend a long time outdoors. If you belong to one of these high-risk groups, look out for these signs of trouble: toes that are very cold to the touch, red skin, numbness, skin that looks hard or waxen, and difficulty walking.
When the wind whips across Lake Erie and sends chills up the backs of all in Portage, Geauga, Cuyahoga, and Summit Counties, cases of frostbite increase. If you think your feet have been affected, contact us immediately for an appointment with podiatrists Craig B. Frey, DPM and Megan L. Oltmann, DPM at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland. Call us in Solon at (440) 903-1041 or contact us online.