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Ahead of extreme cold, doctors remind people of frostbite risks

AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – We’re heading into an extremely cold stretch of weather over the next several days, so Mayo Clinic doctors are reminding people about the dangers of frostbite.

Frostbite generally happens in below-freezing temperatures.

When frostbite occurs, blood flow is impacted, oxygen isn’t delivered, and it can cause long term damage to skin tissue.

Doctors say it’s all about prevention: covering your hands, face, and ears, and making sure all body parts stay dry.

If you do begin to notice symptoms like pain, numbness, or stiffness, you should try to gradually re-warm that body part by soaking it in warm water.

But even that re-warming process can be tricky.

“When you can’t feel your hands and you’re running them under potentially even boiling water or water that’s too hot, it will be damaging to you rather than a slow, controlled, half hour rewarming process,” said Dr. David McAlpine, Medical Director at Mayo Clinic Health System Austin and Albert Lea.

If you’ve gone through the re-warming process but still have pain, you should seek medical care.

And if you find that part of your skin begins to turn black, it’s a definite sign you should see a doctor.

Erin O'Brien

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