Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cold Weather and the Feet

As the temperatures dip in Chicagoland, my concerns again turn to keeping the body, and especially the feet, safe during these freezing days. The toes are at high risk for cold injuries such as frostbite during these frigid days, so it is essential to wear warm socks and boots and to limit time outside. Signs of an injury due to the cold can include tingling, numbness, burning, color changes to the feet or toes (redness can turn to a gray, blue, yellow, or mottled discoloration), pain, difficulty with movement or stiffness, and eventually blistering (often after rewarming of the skin). Elderly patients and people with chronic diseases like peripheral vascular disease (poor blood flow), diabetes, and other conditions are at very high risk for frostbite. Frostbite can lead to nerve damage, chronic pain, future cold sensitivity, ulcerations, gangrene, infection, limb loss, and loss of life, so it is important to stay warm. If you have signs of a cold injury, it is important to report to the nearest Emergency Department for care.