When the temperatures dip low, we still want to go outside, run errands, shovel or just have fun with winter sports! However, in the frigid outdoors, we need to keep our skin protected to avoid frostbite, a serious medical condition with permanent consequences in some cases. The dermatologists at SkinCare Physicians tell how to avoid the risks of frostbite if you plan to stay outside for a while.
Protect your head, hands, and feet
Extra protection is needed for these areas of our body that are most exposed to the elements. To protect your head and face, wear a face mask or scarf to warm the air you breath and to protect your nose and face. Wear a heavy wool or fleece hat to protect your head and scalp. Hands and feet need extra insulation with insulated warm mittens or gloves and double layer of protection for feet. First, use a wicking pair of socks against your skin and add a second pair or thick socks overtop. Make sure you can wiggle your toes freely as tight, restrictive layers can increase the risk of frostbite. Warm, waterproof boots should be worn over top of the layered socks.
Wear loose, comfortable, light layers
Dress your body in light comfortable layers that can help trap warm air. The first layer should be a moisture wicking fabric such as synthetic fabrics, silk, and treated wool. The second layer should be insulating and warm. Fleece, down and wool are good insulators. Your coat should be warm and be able to protect from the wind and precipitation. If needed, add insulated waterproof pants to protect the lower body.
Moisture can increase the risk of developing frostbite. This is why wicking fabrics are so important in helping to prevent frostbite as they are designed to pull moisture away from the skin to the exterior of the clothing. Also, make sure you are fully zipped up and protected against the elements. If you start to sweat, unzip your jacket slightly or slow down your activity to decrease sweating.
Being dehydrated can increase the risk of frostbite, so remember to drink and stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol as it will dehydrate you.
Know the signs of frostbite and when to get help
Frostbite is treatable if detected early. The first signs include:
Prickling and or throbbing sensation
Reddening of the skin
If you experience these signs, go inside immediately and gently try to rewarm using warm water/warm wash cloth. Never use hot water as it can injure the skin. If your skin grays or you do not feel the normal sensation of the skin returning, seek immediate medical care at an emergency department.
In the middle of the winter, don’t let the frigid temperatures prevent you from going outside, but remember the advice of SkinCare Physicians’ dermatologists to avoid frostbite.
How do you protect your skin when the temperatures dip low?
Our team of renowned physicians and experienced support staff is committed to excellence in medical skin care and cosmetic procedures with a patient-centered focus for women and men in the greater Boston area and beyond.
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