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Kalispell doctor offers tips on preventing frost bite

Posted at 11:45 AM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 14:03:42-05

KALISPELL – While the weather seems to be warming up a little bit, it’s still important to cover all exposed parts of the body to avoid frostbite.

Dr. John Van Arendonk of Kalispell Regional Medical Center has seen cold weather-related injuries, including frostbite — which can set in within minutes — for 31 years.

He says that people who have poor blood pressure, or who smoke, have a higher risk of frostbite due to poor blood circulation.

If you notice yellowed or whitening skin, tingling or numbness and suspect frostbite but can’t get to the hospital right away Dr. Van Arendonk says to keep the affected area warm until you get help.

However, he stresses the use of passive warming techniques — for example, using towels and other sources of heat. Also, don’t shock the body by immediately introducing extreme heat to the affected area.

If you do suspect that you have frostbite, Dr. Van Arendonk tells us how you can avoid potentially more tissue and nerve damage.

“One thing that causes more damage to tissue is when it thaws after being frozen and then re-freezes. That’s like the worst case scenario. So, if you warm it up a frozen part of your body you want to be able to keep it warm,” Dr. Van Arendonk.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns not to walk if you get frostbite in your toes or feet as this could potentially cause more tissue damage.