As temperatures in our area begin to drop, as they always do this time of year, talk of frostbitten fingertips arises. While many people have heard of frostbite and know the gist of the symptoms, there are plenty of misconceptions that fly around about the topic. These incorrect rumors can be potentially harmful if taken as fact, so we’re here to get the truth out there. Here are three myths that are not to be believed about frostbite.
Myth #1: Frostbite Only Happens When It’s Freezing Outside
Some people think that as long as temperatures are above 32°F, they are not at risk for developing frostbite. This is untrue. Symptoms of frostbite can start once your body temperature goes under the standard 98.6°F. It doesn’t need to be technically freezing for this process to begin, especially when you consider that factors other than external temperature dictate body temperature. These factors can include whether someone is dressed for cold weather, whether someone is wet or dry, and whether or not someone is exposed to wind.
Myth #2: Frostbite Affects Everyone Equally
While anyone can be affected by the symptoms of frostbite, the rate at which the symptoms take effect depends on certain bodily factors. Age is one of them. Older adults are at a greater risk of developing frostbite. This is because they have thinner skin which doesn’t keep heat in quite as well as thicker skin can. Additionally, older adults aren’t as aware of dips in body temperature.
Diabetic individuals are also at an increased risk of experiencing hypothermia and frostbite. This is because someone with lower blood sugar has a natural instinct to conserve energy. The body does this by minimizing the amount of shivering it does. Shivering is one of the best ways that our bodies know how to stay warm. Some other conditions that make staying warm a challenge are severe arthritis, Parkinson’s, hypothyroidism, and more.
Myth #3: Alcohol Is an Effective Remedy for Frostbite
Many people believe that taking frequent sips of an alcoholic beverage cures frostbite, but it actually does the opposite. Alcohol dilates blood vessels within your skin, meaning you lose heat quicker. It also lowers inhibitions and feeling, meaning you aren’t quite as aware of when your body is getting dangerously cold. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, worsening symptoms caused by frostbite and hypothermia. Hot chocolate is a far better solution for warming the body.
According to a 2016 Benchmarking Report from the Urgent Care Association of America, there are over 7300 urgent care centers in the U.S. Seek help from a nearby urgent care clinic like Care Station Medical Group if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia.