Baptist Health Wound Care encourages public to be cautious in upcoming cold temperatures

December 21, 2022

Winter weather increases chances of wounds and frostbite

(December 21, 2022 - Paducah, KY) With a forecast for frigid temperatures and potential precipitation, the public is encouraged to be careful and use caution with both outdoor and indoor activities.

Snow and freezing rain can make sidewalks and parking lots dangerous. Falls are much more prevalent during these weather conditions and can result in skin tears and painful abrasions.

One of the biggest culprits of preventable winter time wounds is heat. Sitting too close to fireplaces, space heaters or other heat sources can cause burns on the extremities. Many diabetics experience neuropathy keeping these burns from even being noticed, which leads to an increased risk of infections.

“Patients with lessened sensation can develop a wound or burn very quickly and not even know it exists,” said Dr. Chad Bassi, Podiatrist, Baptist Health Wound Care.

One of the most common, but often underestimated conditions during the winter season is frostbite. Frostbite occurs when skin freezes during exposure to cold weather or water, causing either visible or invisible damage to cells and soft tissue. The incredibly cold temperatures and wind chill factors forecasted for our area make the likelihood of frostbite even greater. Frostbite usually affects extremities like fingers, toes and ears first, but can also affect the cheeks, chin or any other exposed skin.

Frostbite can occur in as little as 10 minutes in extremely cold temperatures. Individuals with diabetic neuropathy who have decreased sensation are even more susceptible to frostbite. In addition, persons are at a higher risk if you take certain medications for high blood pressure, suffer from diabetes or poor circulation, or have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Symptoms of frostbite can include numbness, swelling, blisters, redness or blackened skin.

“Timely diagnosis is extremely important,” said Dr. Jason Cumbers, vascular surgeon at Baptist Health Wound Care. “Seeking timely treatment from a medical professional is essential with frostbite to maximize tissue salvage and achieve the best results.”

Baptist Health Wound Care offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy for patients with significant frostbite.

Winter weather can be dangerous. It is important to remember to use caution when outside and to limit exposure to the bitter temperatures. Be certain to dress appropriately and be aware of extremities, particularly if you have neuropathy. If you or a loved one experience a winter wound, call Baptist Health Wound Care at 270.515.2414.