Montreal Hospitals warn parents to be cautious of frostbite during extreme cold

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Emergency room staff at Montreal hospitals are warning parents to take special precautions to prevent frostbite.

The Sainte-Justine Hospital shared photos of kids with severe blistering and redness on social media this week, advising people to keep their kids warm and limit their outdoor time during periods of intense cold.

Dr. Karl Cernovitch, associate chief of adult emergency at the MUHC, says that people should get out of the cold as soon as their skin starts to become itchy and turn red.

He says cases of frostnip, or first-degree frostbite, don’t always need to treated by a physician. They can be handled at home by soaking the irritated skin in warm water.

Cernovitch explained, “Redness represents skin trying to save itself.”

“The next stage is a bit more dangerous when your skin starts to turn more pale, starts to turn white. It’ll start to feel more cold and then as it progresses and you get to deeper and deeper tissues being frozen, it starts to become sort of a yellow, waxy colour.”

He says if a child complains of pain after being out in the cold, parents should take it seriously and examine the area. If normal colour or sensation does not return, they should consult a doctor.

When it comes to prevention, the best advice Cernovitch offers is the obvious.

“Don’t stay out in the cold too long.”