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Emergency medicine expert says frostbite is a concern during current cold snap

Temperatures through the end of next week in the Mankato area are expected to remain below normal, ranging from an expected high of 14 to an overnight low of –25, and a Mayo Clinic expert said cold weather injuries are a concern.

Emergency medicine specialist Dr. David Nestler said frostbite is one worry, and when it sets he explained the first thing people will notice is that it is “exquisitely painful.” He added that, “This doesn’t sneak up on you. At some point, it’s actually when you start to lose sensation, that you can understand there’s no blood flow. Your body has just essentially cut off blood flow to these affected areas.”

The injuries can be just as extreme as burns and he emphasized, “Cold can do the exact same thing. It’s just the opposite extreme with the same effect, which is tissue that is non-functioning.”

The most vulnerable areas, Nestler said, are the ears, nose, fingers, and toes and, “You would expect to see it in those kind of very small blood vessel areas like that first and that’s why we tend to talk about it in those areas.”

Nestler said symptoms begin with cold skin and a prickling feeling,; numbness; red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin; clumsiness, and blistering after rewarming in serious cases.


He added that falls are among the most common emergencies seen during snowy and icy conditions, and that weather-related vehicle accidents, and heart attacks triggered while shoveling snow also send more people to emergency rooms.