Beware of frostbite in winter months

As harvest comes to a close and the weather turns cold, there are certain precautions that should be taken in order to safe over the winter months.

Kelly Ewalt, Michigan State University Extension

Frostbite is a condition where ice crystals form in the fluids of the skin and underlying tissues. As a body is exposed to the cold, a signal is sent to keep the vital organs warm, so blood flow is restricted to the extremities, including the hands, feet, ears and face. If not stopped, frostbite can occur, and prolonged exposure can result in tissue death and possible amputation. It occurs in two ways, either through exposure to cold or through direct contact with cold substances.

Symptoms of frostbite include tingling or burning in the exposed area, commonly referred to as the “pins and needles” feeling. As the condition progresses, the area can become numb and turn white. In severe frostbite, sensation is lost and the area can feel hard to the touch. Blisters may from within 24-48 hours, and as the tissue warms, it may turn black. Medical attention should be sought if you think you have frostbite.

The best way to avoid dealing with frostbite is to wear weather appropriate clothing and wearing layers. Approximately 40% of your body heat can be lost through your head, so wearing a winter hat that covers your ears is imperative, as well as thick gloves. If possible avoid extended periods of time in freezing temperatures and take time to get indoors and warm up.

This article was published on MSU Extension News. For more information from MSU Extension, visit