During the winter months, I hear a lot of concern from patients about frostbite. Frostbite is a very real danger in extremely cold weather. However, patients often confuse other dermatological conditions – such as frostnip, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and pernio – with frostbite. I hope to clear up some of the confusion by explaining these conditions here.
Every winter my fingers and toes develop painful, red, swollen areas with a sensation that feels like a cross between a burn and a deep itch. These symptoms last several weeks until eventually the skin blisters and cracks. The cracked skin then becomes susceptible to infection and becoming extremely chapped.