OMAHA - Just five minutes outdoors in this cold Nebraska weather can cause a case of frost nip or frostbite. Dr. Peter Daher is an emergency room physician at CHI Health University Campus in northeast Omaha and says most people have experienced frost nip.
Dr. Daher says, “Frost nip occurs when skin is exposed to the cold for a sustained period of time. At that point, fingers get numb, tingly and sometimes painful and red. This could maybe considered the first stage of frostbite. Most people can sustain that by trying to open a frozen car door. The skin can get whitish or pale.”
The next stage is frostbite. Dr. Daher says that is when the skin turns waxy and hard. When the skin starts to thaw, blisters filled with liquid or blood form. That typically can be seen on the fingers, toes, nose and ears.
Dr. Daher says this is nothing to mess with. He says, “Most of these people who have amputations of their fingertips or toes. It can be even worse than that. You can lose parts of you like your hand or foot. Worse than that you can develop infections, sepsis and that can cause death.”
Once blisters form it is time to see a doctor. Dr. Daher says they often see patients with burns because they put their hands or feet in hot water. He says gentle warming is the way to go.
You can avoid frost nip and frostbite by dressing in layers. Dr. Daher says the first layer should be made of cotton, the second for warmth like wool or fleece and the third a waterproof coat. Hats, scarves, gloves, and proper boots are also necessary winter wear. It is also wise to limit time spent outdoors during bitter cold days.