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article imageTop tips to avoid frostbite Special

By Tim Sandle     Jan 8, 2015 in Health
In the northern hemisphere many regions carry the risk of frostbite as the wintry weather moves towards its peak. Digital Journal has heard from a leading dermatologist about some top tips for avoiding frostbite.
When the temperature falls below freezing, it is very important to protect skin from cold-weather health risks. The biggest risk arises from frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and tissue beneath the skin freezes following prolonged exposure to cold temperatures (usually below 0.55C or 31F.) If this continues for a long period of time or if the freezing effect is very deep, then frostbite can causes severe and sometimes permanent, damage.
There are different medical classifications for tissue damage caused by extreme cold. These are:
Frostnip is a superficial cooling of tissues without cellular destruction.
Chilblains are superficial ulcers of the skin that occur when a predisposed individual is repeatedly exposed to cold
Frostbite involves tissue destruction.
To find out more and to see what can be done to prevent frostbite, Digital Journal heard from Amy J. Derick, MD, FAAD, clinical instructor of dermatology, Northwestern University.
Dr. Derick said: “Frostbite usually affects the face, nose, ears, fingers and toes, so on bitterly cold days, it’s not enough to just put on a winter coat.” She went onto add: “To really protect your skin from dangerously low temperatures, keep an eye on the weather, dress appropriately for outdoor activities and stay dry.”
Dr. Derick then introduced some important tips for avoiding frostbite. These are:
Dress in loose, light, comfortable layers
Wearing loose, light layers helps trap warm air. Ideally, the first layer should be made of a synthetic material, since these keeps moisture away from your body. The next layer should really be insulating. Here the use of wool and fleece work well since they retain body heat and they are more effective materials then cotton.
Protect your feet and toes
The best way to protect your feet and toes is wear two pairs of socks. The first pair, next to your skin, should be made of moisture-wicking fabric. Over these, wool or wool-blend socks should be worn. It is also important that the boots worn provide adequate insulation and ideally waterproof.
Protect your head
To protect your ears and head the best option is to don a heavy wool or fleece hat. On a really cold day, a scarf can be worn across the mouth and nose.
Protect your hands
Wear insulated mittens or gloves to help protect your hands from the cold.
Ensure snow cannot get inside of boots or clothing
Wet clothing raises the chances of developing frostbite.
Keep hydrated
Becoming dehydrated raises the risk of developing frostbite. It is recommended that people drink at least one glass of water before you head outside. Alcohol should be avoided.
Understand the symptoms
If frostbite is detected early then it is most treatable. The first signs of frostbite include redness and a stinging, burning, throbbing or prickling sensation followed by numbness. The initial stages of frostbite are sometimes called frostnip.
To this Dr. Derick adds: “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.”
Those at a greater risk of getting frostbite include:
People who take part in winter sports.
People stranded in extreme cold weather conditions.
People with jobs that involve working in harsh conditions.
Homeless people.
The very old and very young.
People with blood vessel damage or circulation problems.
People taking medicines that constrict the blood vessels, including beta-blockers, and smokers.
People who are exhausted or excessively dehydrated.
The video below provides some further advice.
More about Cold, chills, Snow, Winter, Skin
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