Frostbite First Aid on the Slopes

Ski season is kicking off in a big way with Heavenly Mountain Resort’s Winter Ignite at South Lake Tahoe starting on Saturday, November 29. However, your time in the powdery snow won’t be any fun if your toes are cold from being on the slopes for too long. If you or your friend are experiencing symptoms of frostbite, here are some frostbite first aid tips to keep your feet safe.

First of all, you should always call 911 if you lack feeling in your lower limbs, are showing signs of hypothermia, or notice your toes turning white, hard, or black. If you let your symptoms go without treatment, you risk developing serious tissue damage.

What you should not do is rub or try to walk on the affected area. This aggravates the tissue and could damage it further. Also, do not try to rewarm the skin if you can’t keep it that way. If your skin thaws out and then refreezes, you could develop even further damage.

Try to get out of the cold as soon as possible. If you can’t go inside, try to protect your feet by tucking them closer to your body. If you have less severe symptoms known as frostnip, you can place your feet in a warm bath of water--between 99 to 108 degrees—and gently warm up your toes. You shouldn’t need to visit the doctor in that case. However, if you notice extreme pain and your toes don’t seem to warm up or lose their numbness when you place them in water, you should visit the emergency room. You may have frostbite.

We may recommend taking oral anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain and inflammation that may occur as your toes start to warm up. If you’re still in an extreme amount of pain after this frostbite first aid, please get help immediately. Then, follow up with Sierra Foot & Ankle in Gardnerville, NV, to ensure that your recovery process is smooth. To make an appointment with Victoria L. Melhuish, DPM, call (775) 783-8037.

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