This is the time of year when the temps are at their lowest. Some people look forward to this time of year to enjoy outdoor activities like skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and sledding. Others prefer to live under a stack of blankets and only go outside when absolutely necessary. Whichever side of the fence you live on, knowing how to avoid frostbite is just good information to have in your back pocket. After all, when the temps get below freezing and there is some good wind behind it, you can start with get frostbite in less than 10 minutes.
In this post, we are going to examine a few different strategies you can use to keep frostbite at bay this winter.
This might seem like an obvious recommendation, but the temptation to not dress properly for conditions can be easy to cave in to. Taking the dog out. Taking the garbage out. Shoveling the front porch. All of these things are common excuses for not putting on a coat to go outside in the cold... for just a minute.
When the weather is "frostbite" cold, make sure you are dressed properly. Flannel is always a good option this time of year. Windbreaking outerwear is another. Layers are also key to help keep skin protected from the cold, while not having to wear bulky clothing.
If your skin is wet, it instantly becomes more prone to frostbite. This is a too-often occurrence among people who like to be active in the outdoors during winter. It's easy to think that staying active in colder weather creates enough heat to stave off frostbite. Unfortunately, constant activity can also lead to sweating, which can increase your likelihood to getting frostbite. One of the most common articles of clothing for winter-time wetness is gloves and mittens. These are also directly exposed to the cold whereas, say long johns, are not.
The best course of action with wet clothing is to remove it as soon as possible. Then make sure you dry the skin that the wet clothing was touching. If you plan to go back out, make sure you are completely dry before starting again.
Hydration and Moisturizers
Winter is a notoriously dry season. The air itself is dryer. Forced heat in homes also dries the air out. This can lead to dry, irritated, flaky skin. Drinking lots of water helps to keep your skin hydrated and stave off irritation. While drinking water helps your skin from the inside out, regular application of lotion and other moisturizers can help the problem from the outside in.
There are varying degrees of moisturizers on the market and some cater specifically to dry, cracked skin. Others are for daily use and can help to prevent skin from becoming dry and cracked in the first place. It's not a bad idea to keep both on hand during the winter months.
Remember, it can be a habit to just apply moisturizer to your hands. Other areas of your body are regularly exposed to the cold, as well. Application to the face and ears can also be very beneficial.
If you are outside for a little while in freezing temps and you start to feel numbness, usually in the fingers and toes first, this is a sign that you need to warm up as soon as possible. Don't ignore it or "tough it out."
When you get back into warm environs, those numb areas can experience a tingling sensation. Sometimes, it can even be painful. This is actually a good sign, though, as that signifies blood returning to the numbed parts. In some case, you may even need to submerge the numb body parts in warm water to help the natural process along.
Avoiding frostbite always comes back to taking care of your skin and listening to your body. Keep your skin warm, dry, hydrated, and moisturized. And when your body sends message of numbness, heed the warning and get to a warmer environment right away.
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