Frostbite not just an 'arctic' condition - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Frostbite not just an 'arctic' condition

Doctors say tingling in fingers and toes is a sign of a pre-frostbite condition. (Source: WAFF) Doctors say tingling in fingers and toes is a sign of a pre-frostbite condition. (Source: WAFF)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

Most of us attribute frost bite to arctic conditions, but experts say you're still at risk, even when the temperatures are above freezing.

As the emergency room director at the Decatur General campus, Dr. Tom-Meka Archinard says smart layering is key to preventing winter weather related injuries. 

Keep cotton next to the skin to wick away any perspiration, and wear gloves and thick socks.

She says before frostbite sets in, another condition - frost nip - becomes obvious. 

"Frost nip is considered a very, very early form of frostbite, where where no tissue damage occurs that is permanent," the doctor explained. "That's when you go outside, it's cold, you touch something very cold, and you feel tingling in your fingertips."

After that stage, the tissue is in danger. "After frost nip, if you have prolonged exposure to the cold weather, then you start becoming concerned of frostbite," said Dr. Archinard.

She says after the tingling comes the pain and discoloration of the skin. 

Her advice? Don't let it get that far. If your fingers or toes tingle, it is time to warm up. 

"With frostbite, it is actually safe to stick them in warm water... not hot."

But, she adds, don't have anything damp on you and return to the cold.

Doctors like Archinard say there is also a reason why your hands and your feet have a tendency to get frostbite before the rest of your body. 

"It's where the circulation is decreased, even in healthy people in comparison to the core area... are going to have less circulation."

It's the body's way of protecting the core area, where the organs are.

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