Frostbite of the Feet
Frostbite is a condition that occurs when the tissues in the body freeze due to exposure to cold temperatures. Frostbite often happens as the result of hypothermia, which is an abnormally low body temperature. When the body is exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time, the blood vessels began to constrict. Constricted blood vessels mean decreased blood flow to the area, which in turn causes frostbite.
People who have been frostbitten often experience tingling, swelling itching and numbness in the affected area. Frostbite is most likely to occur in the extremities, which are the areas that are farthest away from the body. One of the most common places on the body that frostbite develops is the feet. Some people have had to have their feet amputated due to severe frostbite, but fortunately this is rare as the condition can be treated and prevented.
The first step in treating frostbite is to call for help because the chances of saving the foot are much higher if a person gets medical treatment right away. Since a person who suffers from frostbite also usually suffers from hypothermia, he or she should be kept as warm as possible. It is important to remove all wet clothing because in order for the person's body to get warmer, his or her blood vessels will have to expand. Cold, wet clothing causes the blood vessels to constrict.
Getting the person out of the cold area and giving him or her something warm to drink will also help increase the body temperature. It is also important to make sure that the foot is covered with a sterile and dry dressing. An attempt to re-warm the foot can cause it to freeze again, so this practice should be avoided.
Frostbite is a condition that can be prevented in most cases. People who know that they will spending a great deal of time outside need to make sure that they dress appropriately. Layers of loose-fitting clothing are the best to wear during extremely cold weather. The use of drugs and alcohol should be avoided because they increase a person's chances of getting frostbitten. Keeping the body hydrated by taking in plenty of fluids can also help keep a person from getting frostbitten. Additionally, people who take beta blockers or have certain health conditions such as diabetes need to make sure that they are extra careful in cold weather, because they often have problems with peripheral circulation. However, so long as proper precautions are taken, anyone can avoid frostbite.