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Frostbite: From symptoms to complications

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2017 | Blog

Like many people, you may find yourself working outdoors during the cold winter months. You rely on it for a paycheck and may show up from day to day on auto-pilot, but you need to keep your health and safety in mind at all times.

Depending on the circumstances, frostbite is a real concern. This may not sound serious, but it can have a big impact on your health, both now and in the future.

Some of the more common signs and symptoms of frostbite include:

  • Cold skin (often accompanied by a prickling feeling)
  • Numbness in the affected area
  • Skin that turns yellow, blue, white or red
  • Hard skin
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Blistering after reaching warmer temperatures

Frostbite can happen on many parts of the body, with the ears, nose, toes, fingers and cheeks among the most common. Since your skin will become numb, you may not fully realize that you have frostbite unless someone tells you.

Unfortunately, treating frostbite is not as simple as seeking refuge in a warm place. Instead, depending on the extent of the damage, you could face complications including:

  • Increased risk of developing frostbite in the future
  • Enhanced sensitivity to cold
  • Long-term numbness
  • Tetanus
  • Infection
  • Gangrene, which can result in the need for amputation

In other words, frostbite is more serious than what it often appears. If you assume that this could never happen to you, there’s a better chance that it will as you won’t take the necessary precautions.

If you suffer frostbite as a result of your employment, you should notify your supervisor and call for medical assistance. You don’t want to assume that warm temperatures alone will fix your problem, as this is not typically the case.

Once you consult with an experienced medical team, you’ll have a better idea of how your frostbite will impact you in the future. If your doctor suggests that you stay away from work while you recover, don’t hesitate to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The money you receive will give you peace of mind as you recover, with the idea of returning to work down the road.


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