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As Indiana winter storm approaches, here's what to know about frostbite

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Posted at 7:04 PM, Dec 21, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — As Hoosiers prepare for snow and subzero wind chills later this week, emergency department doctors expect to see more cases of frostbite and frostnip over the coming days.

WRTV STORM TEAM LATEST: Winter storm to impact Central Indiana ahead of Christmas

Skin affected by frostbite changes color - it can be red, white, blue or purple. It is most common on the fingers, toes, ears and nose. You may feel numbness or tingling.

"We're expecting to see people come in with the whole range of cold injury, starting with simple blue, red discoloration of the skin that would then progress to where your skin color becomes white. That is something we medically call frostnip," Dr. Jeremy Gagan, emergency room physician at Community Health Network, said. "If you get white skin, you need to come to the emergency room. You need to get to a warm place. You can start with dry warmth in your home. Or if you want to, you can get into a warm bath."

It's important that the water is warm, not hot. Dr. Gagan says if you notice any of the symptoms - go inside and do not ignore them.

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If you have to be outside, schedule breaks to go inside, take your gloves off and look at your hands.

"It would be ideal to look at your feet too if you're going to keep going outside, but at least [look at] your hands — that way you can gauge if you are having any of these skin changes that can be the hallmark or the precursor of frostbite," Gagan said. "The biggest problem I see is people who didn't come in, who didn't check in the first place, and now they've come to see us after they have rewarmed after the frostbite has occurred. One of the worst things you can do is have it repetitively occur, start to rewarm, and then go back out into the cold and refreeze."

More information about frostnip and frostbite is available on the Mayo Clinic's website.

FULL COVERAGE: WRTV Winter Weather Information Center