Precipitation, such as snow, sleet and freezing rain, can make sidewalks and parking lots dangerous. Falls are much more prevalent during these weather conditions and can result in skin tears and painful abrasions. Sitting close to fireplaces, space heaters or other heat sources can cause burns on the extremities. Many diabetics experience neuropathy keeping these burns from even being noticed, leading to an increased risk of infection.
One of the most common, but often underestimated conditions during this winter season is frostbite. Frostbite occurs when your skin freezes during exposure to cold weather or water, causing either visible or invisible damage to your cells and soft tissues. Frostbite usually affects your extremities (fingers, toes and ears) first, but can also affect your cheeks, chin or any other exposed skin. Too much time outdoors in the cold, particularly for those with diabetic neuropathy, can lead to frostbite. Symptoms can include numbness, swelling, blisters, redness or blackened skin.
If you have exposed skin during extremely cold temperatures, you are at risk of developing frostbite. You also are at a higher risk if you take medicine for high blood pressure, have diabetes, suffer from poor circulation, or have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Timely diagnosis and treatment from experts is essential to maximize tissue salvage and achieve the best results.
Winter weather can be fun for some, tedious for others, but can be dangerous for all. Dress appropriately. Be extremely aware of your extremities, if you have neuropathy. Limit your exposure to the bitter temperatures, and if you are concerned about an open wound resulting from a frostbite injury, please call Baptist Health Hardin Wound Care at 270.706.1010. Physician referral not required.