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Open

Mon – Fri: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sun: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Book Appointment

Sign Up for an Appointment

Our simple to use, online booking process makes it easy to book an appointment with a chiropodist for any of our services. No referral needed!
Book Appointment

Sign Up for an Appointment

Our simple to use, online booking process makes it easy to book an appointment with a chiropodist for any of our services. No referral needed!

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Frost on Plants

Frostbite: How To Spot, Treat, And Prevent It

Living in Canada, it’s critical to know the cold, hard truths of frostbite.

With an average Winter daily temperature of -1.5 C to – 9 C, Toronto winters are much more temperate than many other parts of Canada – like the prairies, eastern and northern Ontario and northern provinces and territories – which reduces the risk of frostbite.

Given Toronto‘s proximity to Lake Ontario and the lake effect, winter conditions can vary greatly. Being ill-prepared can put you at greater risk. In any event, look out for winter weather warnings for advanced notice of any incoming cold fronts or an Alberta clipper.

If you travel outside of the GTA, especially to the east or north, be aware of different climates throughout Ontario. For example, travelling to Ottawa means temperatures 5-10 C colder than Toronto at times, so wearing footwear that protects against both the cold and moisture are crucial.

Let’s get an overview, preventative measures, do’s and don’ts, and treatment for frostbite.

What is frostbite?

Winter Snow Boots For Canada

Frostbite is an injury caused by the freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. First, your skin becomes very cold and red, then numb, hard and pale. This skin condition is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. For the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on the toes.

Typically, exposed skin is the most prone, especially in cold, windy conditions, but our feet are not often exposed directly to the elements (unlike hands, nose, and ears). For that reason, frostbite in your toes is more likely due to inadequate footwear, socks, or prolonged exposure outside.

Depending on the temperature you may develop frostbite as quickly as within 15 minutes of exposure to several hours.

What are the 3 stages of frostbite?

You don’t all of a sudden go from normal skin to frostbite. There are intermediate stages of frostbite, all with differing levels of severity.

On the one end, you have normal skin, which is at regular room temperature. On the far end, you have deep frostbite, which is the most serious form. The stages are below:

1. Frostnip

Frostnip is a milder form of cold injury that doesn’t cause permanent skin damage. You can treat frostnip with first-aid measures, including rewarming the affected skin. All other frostbite requires medical attention because it can damage skin, tissues, muscle and bones. Possible complications include infection and nerve damage

2. Superficial frostbite

With superficial frostbite, your skin feels warm, a sign of serious skin involvement. A fluid-filled Blister may appear 24 to 36 hours after rewarming the skin.

3. Deep frostbite

With deep frostbite, you may experience Numbness. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterwards, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.

Does frostbite heal?

Winter Snowstorm in Canada

Frostnip

Frostnip can be treated with simple first-aid measures that include preventing further exposure to cold and rewarming.

Rewarming can be accomplished by soaking the affected area in warm (not hot) water for 15 to 30 minutes. Rewarming using heat sources such as stoves or heating pads should be avoided, as these can lead to burns.

As your skin begins to warm up, you may feel some pain or tingling. You can take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen to ease any discomfort.

Superficial frostbite

Many people can recover fully from superficial frostbite. New skin will form under any blisters or scabs. However, some people may have permanent problems that can include pain or numbness in the area.

Deep frostbite

As with some cases of superficial frostbite, people that have had deep frostbite may have lasting problems that can include pain or numbness as well as increased sensitivity to cold in the area.

How long does frostbite last?

Winter Snowstorm in Canada Susceptible to Frostbite

In milder cases, frostnip can go away shortly (hours) after the area is rewarmed. In more severe cases, the effects can last for weeks, if not permanently. Skin is also more susceptible to the cold in subsequent exposures to the elements.

What about chilblains?

Chilblains is a common cold weather condition that is similar in ways to frostnip. Unlike frostnip/frostbite, chilblains occur with chronic cold temperatures and in the presence of moisture. It’s characterized by slight swelling of the toes and redness as the condition is the painful inflammation of small blood vessels. Whereas frostbite/frostnip is often caused by a single bout of cold exposure, chilblains is the repeated exposure to colder (but not freezing) temperatures.

Chilblains usually clear up within one to three weeks, especially if the weather gets warmer

What should you not do when you have frostbite?

  • Don’t rub the affected skin with snow or anything else.
  • Don’t walk on frostbitten feet or toes.
  • Don’t stay outside. Get out of the cold.
  • Don’t stay in wet clothes. Once inside, shed layers, and wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
  • Don’t rewarm the skin with direct heat, such as a stove, heat lamp, fireplace or heating pad. This can cause burns. Gently warm the area instead to avoid rapid temperature change.
  • Don’t underestimate the effects of damaged skin. When in doubt, contact a medical professional.

See how we can help!

Prepare for winter with products from Feet First Clinic, Toronto’s leading foot clinic. Whether mild or severe, you can rest easy knowing we’re able and happy to solve all your foot care needs. Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

Here’s to Many More Years of Foot Care!

At Feet First Clinic, we’re always excited to welcome new clients! After a successful 12 years of treating our amazing patients, we’re ready to continue offering only the best foot care services and products. Give us a call to ask our friendly staff any questions you may have! Our Toronto foot specialists are ready to help!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

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Emily

Administrative Assistant

Emily is the newest addition to the Feet First family. She assists with the clinic’s accounting and finances, as well as all the behind-the-scenes work that keeps the clinic running smoothly. In addition to her accounting smarts, she brings sunshine and positivity to everyone at Feet First Clinic.

Erica Halpern

Marketing and Administrative Assistant (She/Her)

Part of our administrative support staff, Erica also works behind the scenes writing and editing content for our website and blog. She loves researching and writing educational content to help patients and anyone dealing with pain. When she’s not busy in the clinic, you’ll find her at her local gym, exploring underground music, hiking with friends, or cheering on her favourite sports teams (Go Jays!). She also loves huskies!

Sophie Rudahigan

Clinic Administrator (She/Her)
Sophie prides herself on providing top-tier customer service. She is here to ensure a smooth visit for all clients. In addition to overseeing the clinic’s administration and day-to-day operations, she maintains the cosmetic appearance of the store. She is the magic behind our elaborate display case designs and also ensures the clinic is stocked with stylish (but still orthopedic!) footwear options for all ages.

Bianca Carter

CEO (She/Her)

Day in and out, Bianca works hard to ensure Feet First Clinic runs smoothly. Customer service is at the top of her list and she treats every customer like family. Bianca has a passion for fitness and is dedicated to helping people take care of their feet and body. There is no problem that she can’t solve and she believes that where there is a will, there’s a way.

Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.