The temperature in the Chicago area has dipped sharply, often to subzero degrees.  With extremely cold temperatures comes greater risk of getting frostbite, which is when the skin and underlying tissues freeze.

Frostbite is an injury— almost like a burn—that can potentially damage skin, tissues, muscle and bones.  But it can be prevented.

Dr. Stathis Poulakidas, Chair of Burn Surgery at CCH’s John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, recommends the following tips to avoid getting frostbite:

  • Limit your time outside.  Frostbite can happen in minutes in very cold, windy weather.
  • Wear a warm hat, and keep feet and hands warm and dry.
  • Cover as much of your face as possible while outside, breathe through a scarf to warm air before it enters your lungs.
  • Wear several layers of lightweight clothing, rather than one or two layers of heavy garments. The air between the garments acts as insulation to keep the body warmer.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin
  • Drink warm, caffeine-free, non-alcoholic beverages to stay warm and hydrated