Top 10 Ways to Avoid and Cure Frostbites this Winter

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”

John Steinbeck

Truly, a year is incomplete without winter and the plethora of moments associated with it. The freshly fallen snow on the ground, the short, freezing days made cozy by a hot cup of cocoa, warm blankets and blazing fireplaces. Winters are the stuff of fairytales and magical moments but they also bring along a variety of obstacles. Be it chilblains or frost bites, cold temperatures can soon turn into a nightmare if proper precautions are not maintained. In this article we’ll be detailing 10 ways on how to avoid as well as cure frostbites.

Now frost bites are a form of injury seen on  exposed parts of the body in sub-zero temperatures. Following prompt action and a few simple measures, the injury can be reversed with no permanent harm in most cases. However, if the injury progresses on to later stages, it can involve the structures present deep to the superficial skin and even lead to auto-amputation. The most vulnerable parts of the body are the face and extremities, that is, fingers and toes. The first symptom of this condition may be a tingling sensation in the affected parts, followed by bluish or reddish discoloration of the same. These are quite common in soldiers and mountaineers who spend a great deal of time in child terrains. Also vulnerable are those with medical conditions predisposing them to the harmful effects of low temperatures such as diabetes or dehydration.

So here are a few basic tips to help keep your body safe from frostbites this winter :

1. Better In than Out

No, this does not mean you’re under house arrest and can leave the house only when the winter thaws out. What this means is avoiding severely cold and windy days where the chances for frostbite increase, despite all your efforts to protect yourself. So make use of those Weather Apps and venture out only after bearing all the possible weather outcomes in mind.

2. Flaunt those Layers

One certain way to avoid incurring a frostbite is to ensure you do not skimp on those thermals and jackets. It is best to choose clothes that are not extremely constricting and allow enough breathing space.

The ideal way to layer on would be to start by wearing garments that absorb any moisture closest to your skin. Follow this up by warm, loose clothes that trap the heat and top it off with wind and water proof jackets and coats.

3. Glove it On

As mentioned earlier, fingers are quite prone to frostbites, particularly because as extreme parts of our body, their blood supply is compromised. So make sure you wear thick woolen gloves or preferably mittens that prevent any moisture from seeping in and keep your fingers dry and warm. Gloves can be preceded by a layer of glove liners for extra protection.

4. One can Never Have Too Many Socks!

Protect your feet from the dangers of frostbite by wearing atleast 2 pairs of socks, with the first ones being waterproof and those on top, warm and thick. Also, make sure that your footwear is waterproof and prevents any snow from getting in. The key is to ensure that the socks are not too tight or else they might restrict the blood supply to your feet and end up increasing your chances of a frostbite.

5. Hats and Scarves, Your Winter Charms

While heading out, do protect your face from the onslaught of chilly, dry winds by wrapping a warm yet light scarf over your head and face. It not only prevents frostbites but also makes the air you breathe in warm. In addition to that, don’t forget to wear a sturdy hat or headband made of a warm material that also covers your ears. The mantra is to not leave any part of your body exposed to the freezing temperatures

6. Water to the Rescue

While winters might be an excuse to cut back on the daily water consumption, it is essential that you stay hydrated before and during your time outdoors in the cold. Drink a glass of water before you venture outdoors and keep yourself stocked up with bottles of water and energy drinks. Avoid consumption of alcohol as it promotes dehydration and increased heat loss from the body.

7. Moving On…

A great strategy to keep that circulation in check and your body warm is to keep moving. Even while sitting, keep jiggling your toes and wiggling your fingers to keep the blood flowing. However, understand that this is not a marathon and going overboard with the exercising could lead to exhaustion which is not the best case scenario when in freezing temperatures.

8. Planning is the New Cool

That’s right. A bit of planning in advance can make all the difference in the world. If you need to go out to a remote location, pack with yourself some extra supplies of clothes, drinking water, first aid kit etc. to help you deal with any unforeseen situation. Also, let your friends know the details of your route and destination and stay connected with them, as far as possible. A small effort on your part could eventually save you in the long run.

9. Call it Out

What most individuals fail to do is recognize the initial symptoms of a frostbite, dismissing it as a general reaction to the cold outside. This is seriously detrimental as frostbite soon progresses into advanced stages that makes the damage more permanent. If you feel a tingling, burning or eventually numbing sensation alongwith reddish discoloration, alert someone for help immediately.

While those are the signs of mild frostbite, severe frostbite presents with complete loss of sensation alongwith gangrene like presentation in severe cases. Thus, make sure you receive medical attention as soon as you spot the first signs.

10. Treat it, Beat it

The first step towards frostbite management should be moving indoors and getting rid of any wet clothes. The areas affected can be warmed up with the help of a wash cloth soaked in warm water. This will relieve the frozen flesh, resulting in pain and blisters in the affected area but no permanent damage. Rewarming is the best strategy while dealing with a frostbite, be it mild or severe. Keep in mind that the frozen area not be massaged or irritated in any way, as this will cause further damage.

In case the frostbite is severe, you may need to get hospitalized for a long period of time, in which case it is best to discuss the treatment plan and after-care with your doctor.
Ultimately, when it comes to frostbites, prevention is the best cure, so keep these tips in mind and face these winters head on !