What Parents Should Know About Frostbite

Image via: jeepz.com

Image via: jeepz.com

As temperatures fall and frolicking in the snow becomes the playtime du jour, watch out for this tricky condition.

Even if you don’t live in some ice-swept polar extreme, watch your little ones for frostbite. A kid engrossed in snow-play won’t want to stop to warm up, points out Yaffa Gewirtz, MD, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. And even in temps of 32F or a bit warmer, ice crystals can form on exposed skin. Preventive steps:

Bundle up

Make sure your child’s dressed in layers including socks, leggings, hat, mittens and face covering. (Many cases of juvenile frostbite occur on cheeks, noses and ears, which are often exposed.) Waterproof outerwear is essential for play in snow and sleet. So is swapping wet layers for dry, since wet fabric loses its ability to insulate.

Warm up

Every 15 to 20 minutes, have him take a break and come indoors—whether he wants to or not. Small kids can’t often monitor discomfort when they’re having a good time. A short break in front of the radiator, sipping a mug of hot cocoa, will raise his core body temperature and ensure that he stays warm down to the tips of his fingers.

Bone up on signs

Frostbite manifests with skin changes: redness, then a pale, waxy sheen and, in severe cases, a dark color. Numbness and tingling are early indicators of skin damage. Rewarm skin as quickly as possible, but avoid rubbing. Instead, fill a sink with warm water (under 100F) and submerge affected area for up to 30 minutes to bring it back to normal. If skin is still red-streaked or blistered, head for the ER.