Doctors warn of health risks in frigid temps - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Doctors warn of health risks in frigid temps

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MADISON (WKOW) -- With temperatures in the single digits, there's a health risk to being exposed to this dangerously cold weather.

The chill is expected to stick around into the new year, so families or workers heading outside in this weather will need to be careful. 

Kids may be spending more time outside during winter break, so doctors say it's important to make sure they keep their warm clothes on. Hats and mittens are essential, because frostbite can set in, in just 10 minutes.

If they've been outside a while, you should keep a close eye on them. 

"Kids will come home and they'll have kind of that red hands or red face, said Dr. Diana Flint. "It's important to just rewarm by putting them in a warm environment, make sure their clothes are dry, they're covered with blankets if need to be."

Dr. Flint, in family practice with SSM Health, says if the redness doesn't go away, or if hands or feet look white, it could be frostbite. It mostly impacts uncovered areas like hands, noses, cheeks or ears. 

If you're worried about frostbite, you shouldn't rewarm too quickly, or you could cause additional damage to the tissue in the skin. Instead, cover the area with dry, warm towels or blankets and don't rub the area. Do not run your hands under hot water or put near flames, because you could burn your skin without realizing.

Doctors are seeing more people coming in right now with respiratory infections. Flint says you're at a greater risk of catching a cold from someone else when it's so cold out, because your immune system may not be as strong in the chilly weather. So, as always, doctors recommend washing hands to prevent the spread of illnesses this time of year.

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