You know it’s officially a Chicago winter when you look at the thermostat and the reading says… zero degrees! When temperatures are this low, we need to protect ourselves from different cold weather injuries. The toes are extremely susceptible to the following conditions because they are the furthest from the heart and have the least access to the circulation in the body.
1) FROSTBITE: This is when your skin literally freezes. It starts on the outer layer of your skin and penetrates deeper and deeper into your tissues. If just the outside skin gets frozen, the damage is reversible and is called frostnip. If it gets deeper, the frostbite can start freezing off your blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and bone. This damage can be irreversible, and the body parts that die off may need to be removed.
2) CHILLBLAINS: This odd term is another reaction the body can have to the cold. Small, red, and itchy bumps will appear on the cold exposed parts. These can become painful or turn into blisters. We actually saw a fair number of people in the office last winter with this condition. Most of these people did not even work outdoors, yet they developed this cold toe woe. The common themes we saw were people whose feet were prone to sweat. Sweaty feet in the cold is similar to your feet being submerged in an ice pond, which is not a good combination.
Stay tuned to our blog next week to see how to best keep those toes warm during these arctic times.
BY: DIANA EMINI