When people think about winter, most consider cold days with heavy snowfall. It is a time when people begin to drink hot chocolate, turn up the indoor heat, and add more sweaters to their clothing when heading out. Unfortunately, the increasing homeless population does not have access to these facilities and they will be exposed to cold winter weather without protection. In addition to the risk of fatalities, many cold-related injuries will be experienced include winter burns.

It is odd to consider burns to be a winter-related injury as burns are often associated with excessive heat. The fact is that winter burns do exist, can be easily experienced, and can cause severe damage to the individual. It is important to recognize the types of burn injuries that can be caused during the winter months. This article will provide information on the different types of burns experienced during the winter months.

  1.  Frostbite

Frostbite is typically experienced when the skin temperature drops to fourteen or fifteen degrees Fahrenheit, and the basic symptoms are numbness, itching, tingling in the skin, and pallor of the affected area. Minor frostbite – known as frostnip – can be easily treated by re-warming the area; however, if the area is not treated, it could result in severe frostbite.

Frostbite is a type of injury that affects tissue in the body by freezing or forming ice crystals on the tissue. Severe cases of frostbite are evidence of deeper tissue damage, and symptoms include decreased mobility in the skin, decreased elasticity of the skin, and a yellow or white appearance. If not treated correctly, this type of frostbite can progress to blistering and necrosis with stiffness and edema. It is common for individuals with severe frostbite to experience major tissue loss and a need for amputation.

  1.  Chilblains

Chilblains are injuries resulting in inflammatory changes in the skin without freezing of the skin tissue. This burn occurs when the individual is exposed to cold temperatures, and symptoms include the appearance of itchy, painful skin lesions. The lesions will often blister, and local edema can be experienced. Similar to frostnip, chilblains can be resolved by re-warming the area, and it rarely requires any surgical treatment.

  1.  Flash-Freezing

A form of cold-related burns that are not associated with exposure to outdoor cold is the flash-freeze injury. Flash-freezing is a rapid type of cold-related injury that results in immediate tissue death. Causes of flash-freezing include contact with chemicals, such as dry ice or liquid nitrogen. As this cold contact injury results in immediate tissue death, it cannot be treated with re-warming and will require amputation of the affected area.

If you find yourself with any burn injuries, trust the professional technicians at Ontario HBOT to help treat your injuries. Our hyperbaric oxygen therapy systems help to promote your bodies healing by allowing for 100% oxygen inhalation. This allows for the oxygen to better circulate and be absorbed by your body.