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How to prevent frostbite during freezing temperatures

Cold temperatures can have a huge impact on our skin and health professionals want you to know a few tips on how to protect your skin from the cold.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 8:40 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Frostbite is a common injury during the winter months. Cold temperatures can have a huge impact on our skin and health professionals want you to know a few tips on how to protect your skin from the cold.

First, your ears, nose, and fingers are the most likely places to get frostbite. Make sure to have gloves, scarves, and hats to keep those areas protected.

“One of the best things we can do is, is add layers,” said CoxHealth Injury Prevention Coordinator Luke Spain. “Lots of loose-fitting layers. Things like wool and fleece are going to do better at keeping us warm. And then we’re normal materials. We want to really rely on things like wool and fleece to keep us warm.”

Next, know the warning signs. If you have exposed skin and it starts to feel tingles or pins and needles, it’s time to go inside and warm up.

“Symptoms are going to include redness of the skin is a really common indicator that you’re starting to get too cold,” said Spain. “Numbness is really a point where you’re you’re getting too far too fast. You know if you’re starting to experience those kinds of symptoms, definitely go back inside or add additional layers.”

If you notice the pins and needles feeling in your hands or feet you can use warm, not hot, water to help warm back up. You can also use hand warmers to keep your fingers and toes from getting too cold.

“A lot of people want to put those warmers inside their hands but the best thing to do is actually put them on top of your hands,” said Spain. “Putting the warmer on top of your hand or on top of your feet is going to allow it to circulate faster because most of the blood circulates on the top of your hand rather than on the bottom.”

If you know you are going to be spending time in the cold avoid drinking alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can dehydrate you and prevent you from recognizing the warning signs of frostbite. If you start to notice some discoloration of the skin or blisters it’s time to seek professional help.

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