The past few weeks have Jacksonville, FL in winter’s grasp, and the chills have been felt here at Dr. Reddy’s First Coast Foot and Ankle Clinic. This is bad news for the feet as they are the first parts to be sacrificed when we are exposed to extreme cold. However, our bodies are marvels in terms of the various survival mechanisms we have in place.
Conditions of cold exposure can be broadly grouped into freezing and non-freezing injuries. Non-freezing injuries include pernio, or chillblains. This condition results from changing circulation in response to cold exposure. You’ll notice it on the skin because it will be red, itchy, and have a burning sensation. Your skin may even form ulcers.
Of course, you are probably more familiar with frostbite, a freezing injury. Frostbite occurs when the body part becomes so cold that it actually freezes. This is a serious medical condition, and you will need to seek emergency medical treatment. Do not try to rapidly re-warm the exposed area but instead do so gradually. Dr. Reddy will be able to help you form a long-term treatment plan.
The best way to handle cold exposure is to prevent it. Here are some tips:
- Keep your feet dry! Since water will make you lose heat 25 times faster than air.
- Proper footwear! Make sure your footwear is not too tight to allow for proper circulation.
- Avoid alcohol if you will be in a cold environment. This will cause your blood vessels to expand and give off body heat
- Bundle up! This means wear a proper hat, coat, and gloves. If you keep your head and chest warm, your body will be able to maintain circulation of warm blood to the feet.
For treatment options or any questions you may have consult with Dr. Vimal Reddy.