Tips To Prevent Frostbite
- To detect frostbite early when it is most treatable you must be able to recognize the symptoms. The first signs of frostbite include redness and sensations such as burning, throbbing, stinging and prickling, and then finally numbness. When you experience any of these signs you should go indoors immediately.
- Believe it or not, staying hydrated is very important when avoiding frostbite because dehydration increases the risk. And drinking alcohol also increases your risk for frostbite. Before you head out into the cold, drink a glass of water. Before an outdoor workout be sure to have a glass of water or a sports drink.
- To help keep warm air around your body you should dress in loose, light layers. A great first layer should consist of synthetic material which helps keep moisture away from the body. The next layer should consist of wool or fleece - and not cotton - to insulate and hold in more body heat. The top layer such as a parka should windproof and waterproof your body.
- It is also always important to protect your feet and keep them warm. Wearing two pairs of socks is always a good idea. The first pair that you put on should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric and the second pair can be wool or a wool blend. Remember to stay away from tight fitting clothes because they increase the risk of frostbite. For added insulation wear boots that cover your ankles and are waterproof.
- Keeping your clothing dry is also very important because wet clothing definitely increases the risk of developing frostbite. Be sure to wear clothing and footwear that keeps the snow from getting inside, and if you do start to sweat, unzip your jacket a bit and cut back on your activity.
- It is also important to protect your head and ears when in cold weather by wearing a hat made of wool or heavy fleece. And be sure to cover your face with a scarf or face mask to keep the cold wind out and help prevent frostbite on your nose and face.
- And last but not least, always protect your hands with insulated gloves or mittens.
Frostbite usually affects the face, nose, ears, fingers and toes, so on bitterly cold days, its not enough to just put on a winter coat, says Amy J. Derick, MD, FAAD, clinical instructor of dermatology, Northwestern University. To really protect your skin from dangerously low temperatures, keep an eye on the weather, dress appropriately for outdoor activities and stay dry. If you experience symptoms of frostbite, try to gradually bring feeling back into the body. Never rub frostbitten skin or submerge your hands or feet directly into hot water - use warm water or a warm washcloth instead. If you do not feel sensation returning to your body, or if the skin begins to turn gray, go to an emergency room immediately.