Local

Expert Tips On How To Identify Frostbite

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The “Red Door” on Stanwix Street is the oldest service St. Mary of Mercy Church provides to those in need.

More than 50 men and women showed up for a bag lunch Monday of peanut butter and jelly, a meat sandwich and pastry.

They know well what it’s like to weather bitter cold.

“That’s where a lot of prayers come at it,” said one man. “That’s all I have.”

He’s one of many looking for a warm bed. Just off Second Avenue, tents provide shelter under the Boulevard of the Allies where the homeless are hunkered down.

When asked where he’ll be sleeping tonight, one man said,”I’m going to East Liberty right now, to see if I can get lucky.”

Any exposed skin can get frostbite within minutes of being outside.

Damage from frostbite can range from superficial to deep.

“They do look like burns and that’s actually how we treat more frostbite – severe frostbite,” says Dr. David Ondrako, in Allegheny General Hospital’s Emergency Department.

First Degree Frostbite – or Frostnip, you can experience tingling, numbness, burning or itching. The affected areas may look white and there can be pain as the tissue re-warms.

In Second Degree Frostbite – blisters form. The skin looks waxy white or yellow in color and indicates deeper tissue injury.

With Third Degree Frostbite – damage is through all skin layers. Affected areas turn purplish blue and then black as tissue dies.

But even superficial frostbite can cause long term problems according to Dr. Ondrako.

“You can with neuropathy and other problems with the nerves below the skin,” he said.

The big question is – when do you know you’re in trouble?

“If it’s white – if you can’t feel it – those are all reasons you should come into the Emergency Department,”Dr. Ondrako said.

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