Frostbite FAQs

Ol’ Man Winter is preparing to offer us temperatures 4-5 degrees colder than normal this year in the Cleveland area, according to the weather experts. One way you can prepare for these low temps is to educate yourself about the dangers of frostbite. Megan L. Otlmann, DPM and Craig B. Frey, DPM of Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland offer these FAQs:

Q:  What is frostbite?

A: After being out in the cold for a while, we might exclaim “My toes are freezing!”  But with frostbite, it’s not just a matter of toes that feel really cold. Frostbitten toes are literally frozen, with ice crystals forming within the tissue. Toes will feel numb and in very bad cases they may appear white, blue or black.

Q: Who can get frostbite?

A: Anyone who stays out in the cold too long can get frostbitten fingers and toes. People at higher risk include the elderly, the very young, and diabetics.

Q: Why are toes susceptible to frostbite?

A: When you’re out in the cold, your body naturally shifts blood away from your extremities in order to supply the main organs of your body and keep your overall body temperature from falling. This process unfortunately leaves your fingers and toes with a reduced blood supply and they become cold very easily.

Q: What should you do if you have frostbite?

A: Get to a warm place. Remove any wet clothing. Immerse the affected area in warm, not hot, water. Call our podiatry office in Solon, OH at (440) 903-1041 as soon as possible if you suspect frostbitten toes, or seek emergency medical treatment.

Q: What should you NOT do if you have frostbite?

A: Never warm frozen fingers or toes by running hot water on them or sitting close to a heater or fireplace. Don’t warm the skin with a heating pad or hair dryer as this could cause burns. Don’t walk on frostbitten toes. Never subject thawed appendages to re-freezing.
Q: How can you prevent frostbite?

A: Wear warm socks and insulated boots. Take frequent breaks from being out in the cold. If your fingers or toes begin to feel numb, go inside.

Frostbite can be very serious. Contact us with your questions and concerns at the number above or contact us online.