2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 18:44
The cold will be biting all weekend in Quebec, so these precautions to prevent frostbite are especially important before heading out to enjoy the day!
Thrilling fingers and toes, cheeks, nose and ears turning bright red are the first signs that frostbite is brewing and it's time to get warm.
Young children are more likely to suffer from frostbite than adults. Wind bites are particularly dangerous. Having a larger body surface area relative to their weight than adults, children lose heat through their skin faster. Plus, they're not yet mature enough to judge any warning symptoms as they're having wild fun in the snow. That's why parents should be vigilant and keep a close eye on their children's red cheeks, ears and noses when the temperature drops below -20 degrees Celsius.
Chilblains mostly occur on the extremities of the body, such as the fingers, feet, nose, ears and cheeks, where blood circulation is less efficient. At first, the skin is red, it tingles, burns and gradually becomesnumb. Then appear marbled, even pale areas, which, as time passes, become insensitive. Like a burn, severe frostbite can cause swelling and blisters in the late stages.
"When the skin turns white or if the child complains of pain in the ears, cheeks or nose, you must quickly go inside and warm up, even if it means going back outside later", warns the D r Dominic Chalut, pediatric emergency physician at the Montreal Children's Hospital.
It is recommended to warm the frozen skin slowly, ideally with body heat, for example by placing the frozen parts on the hottest areas of the body, such as the hands, if they are warm, the stomach, the armpits or crotch. “The warming should be gentle and gradual. Too sudden heating risks damaging the tissues,” says Drre Danielle Marcoux, dermatologist at Sainte-Justine Hospital.
Above all, do not rub, rub or give violent massages, stress all the specialists. “Sometimes we tend to rub chilblains in order to warm them up. We must avoid such manipulations”, insists the Dr Trawl, before explaining that when the tissues freeze, ice crystals form between the cells. “You have to let these ice crystals melt passively without applying too much pressure. Because by rubbing the skin, the crystals may damage the soft tissues ofsupport. If you are warming up near a wood fire, avoid getting too close so as not to burn yourself. When the frostbite is advanced, there is inhibition of the sensation, the person may then not perceive the heat”, warns the Dr Tralut, who suggests applying water compresses warm on frozen skin and soak frozen hands and feet in a bowl of warm water. Drre Marcoux advises against heating pads and hot water bottles.
If after 30 minutes of warming the skin seems to turn black, go to the emergency room or consult a doctor immediately, as there could be a loss of tissue
There will most likely be complete recovery of sensations and tissues, if, at the time of discovery of frostbite, the person still has some sensations, such as numbness, explains DreMarcoux, before specifying that everything depends on the degree of sensation perceived by the person. “If the sensations have become barely perceptible, some discreet sequelae may remain after several weeks. If the frostbite is superficial, there may be a greater sensitivity to cold for some time. Severe frostbite, equivalent to second- or third-degree burns, that requires amputation is very rare in children, says Dr Trawl.
There is only one way to prevent frostbite: dress warmly by putting on severallayers of clothing, including insulating underwear. Clothing should not be so tight as to impede blood circulation, and outer layers should be as waterproof as possible. Waterproof mittens are preferable to gloves. The hat should completely cover the ears. You can also protect the face with a tube collar or a hood.
It is important to remove wet clothing as soon as possible, as it increases heat loss. If it is very cold, it is recommended to move rather than stay hidden in an igloo, to take frequent breaks in a heated place, to reduce the duration of outings outside and to frequently assess the state of children's skin and extremities.
The same precautions should be taken with adults, "except that they are supposed to have better judgment and be able to recognize frostbite, as well as remedy it quickly by returning warm", points out the Dr Trawl.
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