Friday, January 8, 2010
The answer to yesterdays Medical Challenge was..you guess it...frostbite. Frostbite occurs when tissue is exposed to temperatures below the freezing point of skin. It can happen to anyone, even those acclimated to cold climate. As the body gets colder and colder the blood vessels in the extremities constrict to send more blood to vital organs. That is why fingers, toes, noses and ears are so susceptible to frostbite. Deep frostbite causes swelling and blood-filled blisters. Clear blisters with intact sensation have a better prognosis than blisters with dark fluid.
The amount of final tissue destruction is proportional to the time it remains frozen. Rapid transport to a hospital is important for supervised warming. A water bath heated to 104-107.6F is best for rapid thawing. This can be very painful and dehydration is possible so IV fluids may be needed to treat hypothermia.
It's cold out there so bundle up, wear hats, gloves and heavy socks.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 4:12 PM