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Eskenazi doctor shares when to seek medical help during cold weather

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 17:53:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS — With sub-zero temperatures forecasted for Wednesday morning across Central Indiana, an Indianapolis doctor is reminding Hoosiers to stay safe.

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Tyler Stepsis, chief of emergency medicine at Eskenazi Health, says the temperature and wind chill play into whether or not a person is at risk for becoming injured in the cold.

"You can be sitting in above freezing temperatures and still get frostbite. It takes awhile, several hours, but if you're in -20,-30 degree wind chill, it could be a matter of 15-20 minutes before you start to develop severe frostbite," Stepsis said. "It really depends on how cold it is, how wet you are, how wet your skin is and what kind of skin is exposed to the elements."

Stepsis says exposed areas of skin, such as the nose, toes and fingers have less blood flow, so there is a lesser chance that you'll be able to warm up quickly and are at risk for frostbite.

Those with frostbite will feel a tingling sensation as the exposed skin turns red and then pale. The skin can later turn hard and blister if there's continued exposure to the cold.

"If you're trying to warm up a body part that's tingly and feels a little bit numb ... if that doesn't seem to come back with drying and warming then we think woah, there could be something a little more serious going on and you need medical help at that time," Stepsis said.

Eskenazi also wants to remind Hoosiers of space heater safety - you can get burned or start a fire by getting too close to a space heater.