KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hospitals across the metro are reporting cases of frostbite as the metro struggles with the deep freeze. Experts warn frostbite happens quickly and can even happen as you’re shoveling snow from your driveway or sidewalk.
The Mayo Clinic defines frostbite as an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying issues. Taking several simple steps can prevent frostbite.
- Wear clothing that’s suitable for the conditions.
- Limit your time in the cold, even if you’re active. Frostbite can happen in as little as 30 minutes if the conditions are right.
- Frostbite can also be cause by direct contact with ice, cold liquids or metal.
Some symptoms need immediate attention by a doctor while others you can treat at home. Here are some common symptoms of frostbite:
- Cold skin and prickling feeling
- Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
- Blistering after rewarming in severe cases
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The Mayo Clinic states frostbite happens in several stages:
- Frostnip is a mild form of frostbite. It happens when your skin turns cold. You may feeling a tingling sensation as you warm up. Frostnip doesn’t cause permanent damage, as long as you get inside before the condition progresses to the next stage.
- Superficial frostbite happens when your reddened skin turns white or pale. If your skin then starts to feel warm, it’s a serious sign. Doctors say you need to seek professional treatment at this point.
- You also need to go to the emergency department or urgent care if you think you have deep, or severe, frostbite. All layers of the skin are damaged at this point. Your skin will be white or bluish gray at this point. You may also experience numbness, blisters, and your joints or muscles may no longer work, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Hypothermia is another dangerous condition. It happens when your body loses heat faster than it can make it. This can also happen quickly as you’re out shoveling snow when it’s this cold. Symptoms include:
- Intense shivering
- Slurred speech
- Drowsiness and loss of coordination
Seek emergency treatment if you experience any of those symptoms.