Frostbite cases could increase with cold temps coming tonight |

Frostbite cases could increase with cold temps coming tonight

Suzie Romig
Craig Press

Doctors at the UCHealth Burn and Frostbite Center in Aurora warn that the bitter cold temperatures and winds expected this week can lead to increased cases of frostbite.

Frostbite, or damage to the skin caused by exposure to cold temperatures, can happen during single-digit temperatures, especially when paired with wind chill. The colder the temperature, the faster symptoms of frostbite can set in.

Frostbite can happen within 30 minutes when the temperature is 5 degrees and the wind speed is at 30 mph. At minus-5 degrees with a wind speed of 30 mph, frostbite can happen within 10 minutes.

Symptoms of frostbite include redness or pain in the affected area, white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels abnormally firm or waxy, and numbness or blisters. In most cases, the person is unaware he or she is suffering from frostbite because the frozen tissues are numb. Young children, older adults and people impaired by alcohol or drugs are at a higher risk for frostbite.

According to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, a strong cold front is expected to move into Colorado late Wednesday, Dec. 21, with wind gusts of 40-50 mph across Northwest Colorado. As a result, temperatures are expected to plummet for Wednesday night and Thursday, Dec. 22.

Officials at the Burn and Frostbite Center offer tips if someone suspects frostbite. The individual should go inside to prevent additional exposure if possible. Also, he or she should rewarm the affected area in warm water — not hot water — for 15 to 30 minutes. He or she should also keep the affected area elevated to reduce swelling and try to avoid walking on frostbitten feet.

If the skin appears blue or bluish-gray or blisters form when the skin warms, doctors suggest seeking medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further tissue damage.

Some of the possible long-term effects from frostbite include changes in sensation in the injured area including cold sensitivity, muscle weakness or joint stiffness.

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