With severe winter weather upon us, outdoor activities can result in wounds, health officials say.

Snow, sleet and freezing rain, can make sidewalks and parking lots dangerous. According to a news release from Baptist Health Hardin, falls are much more prevalent during these weather conditions and can result in skin tears and painful abrasions.

Additionally, the release said sitting close to fireplaces, space heaters or other heat sources can cause burns on the extremities. Furthermore, many diabetics experience neuropathy keeping these burns from even being noticed, leading to an increased risk of infection.

The release said one of the most common, but often underestimated conditions during the winter season is frostbite. Frostbite occurs when skin freezes during exposure to cold weather or water, causing either visible or invisible damage to cells and soft tissues.

According to the release, frostbite usually affects extremities – fingers, toes and ears – first, but can also affect cheeks, chin or any other exposed skin. Too much time outdoors in the cold, particularly for those with diabetic neuropathy, can lead to frostbite. Symptoms can include numbness, swelling, blisters, redness or blackened skin.

Anyone with exposed skin during extremely cold temperatures can be at risk of developing frostbite, the release said. It noted also that people are at a higher risk if they take medicine for high blood pressure, have diabetes, suffer from poor circulation, or have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

Timely diagnosis and treatment from experts is essential to maximize tissue salvage and achieve the best results, the release said.

The release encouraged people to limit exposure to the bitter temperatures, and if they are concerned about an open wound resulting from a frostbite injury, to call Baptist Health Hardin Wound Care at 270-706-1010.

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