Preventing Frostbite Tips

Preventing Frostbite Tips Jan 4, 2022 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team

Every year, Nebraska experiences an average of 39 days that never rise above freezing temperatures. While many people may say that they have grown accustomed to the cold, it’s important that you still protect your skin from the freezing weather no matter what. Frostbite happens when the skin freezes due to extended exposure to cold temperatures. To keep you safe this winter, here are some tips on how to prevent frostbite. 

Symptoms of Frostbite

Any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite. The most common areas to get frostbite are the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin. As listed by Mayo Clinic, the signs of frostbite include:
  • Cold skin and prickling feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, or discolored skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • Clumsiness due to stiffness
  • Blistering after rewarming

Preventing Frostbite Tips

Limit time in cold weather
  • Cold, wet, windy weather can really do some damage to your skin. In these settings, exposed skin can develop frostbite within a few minutes. In fact, with a little wind and -15 degrees, it’s possible for frostbite to set in as quickly as 15 minutes. 
Dress in loose, warm layers
  • Dressing in loose, warm layers helps trap the heat inside. The innermost layer should be made of a synthetic material, which will keep the moisture away from the body. The next layer should be wool or fleece as these materials make good insulation and hold more warmth compared to cotton. The outermost layer should be waterproof and windproof. If you know you’re going to be outdoors for a while, a down coat and snow pants will keep you warm and dry. 
Protect your feet
  • Once again, you should wear layers. Wear two pairs of socks. The inside layer should be moisture-wicking and the outside layer should be wool. Your boots should provide warm insulation and be waterproof. Don’t wear socks or shoes that feel too tight. 
Wear a hat that covers your ears
  • Wearing a hat is so important. A person loses about 10% of their body heat through their head. A heavy wool or fleece hat should work. If your face is cold, wrap a scarf around your neck and face. A scarf will help warm the air that you breathe in and will help prevent frostbite on your nose and face.
Protect your hands
  • Keep your fingers and hands warm with insulated mittens and gloves or two layers. According to Mayo Clinic, mittens are warmer than gloves. Your fingers generate more heat when they are not separated from each other. 
Tuck in your clothing
  • If snow can get inside your clothing, you’re at a higher risk of getting frostbite. Before you head outside, make sure that you’re properly tucked in and that no skin is exposed. 
Keep yourself hydrated
  • Dehydration can lead to frostbite, too. Before you head outside, you should drink at least one glass of water. In addition, you should avoid alcohol as it can lead to dehydration and causes the body to lose heat faster.
Plan ahead
  • You should always travel with an emergency kit and extra clothing in your car. If you are traveling in bad weather or in the country, be sure to tell others your route and when they can expect to hear from you again. 
Keep moving
  • Even though the cold makes the body tense up, it’s important to keep moving. Exercise helps blood flow and keeps you warmer. Don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion. And if you get hot and start to sweat, cut back on your activity or unzip your coat. 
Recognize the symptoms
  • Know the signs of frostbite. The first signs include redness, stinging, burning, throbbing, or prickly sensation followed by numbness. If you begin to experience these feelings, head indoors immediately. 

Closing Thoughts

If you experience any kind of frostbite, try to gradually warm-up in outdoors. Never rub frostbitten skin or get into hot water. If you don’t feel sensation returning to your body or if the skin starts to turn blue, go to an emergency room immediately.  For questions or concerns regarding frostbite, please contact Complete Family Dermatology in Lincoln, NE at 402-423-1111. 


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