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Fend Off Frostbite

When you're out on your skis, sled and skates enjoying the winter wonderland, remember to protect yourself against frostbite.

It typically affects exposed areas of the body such as hands, feet, nose, ears and face. Your risk of frostbite increases if you take certain medications for heart conditions or if you have circulatory problems, like narrowing of the arteries, says an article in the December issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

A slightly painful, tingling sensation is the first sign of frostbite. That's often followed by numbness. Skin that's frostbitten may be pale, cold and hard.

The Mayo Clinic offers the following advice on how to deal with frostbite:

  • As soon as possible, gradually warm the areas affected by frostbite. If you're outside, you can warm frostbitten hands by tucking them under your armpits. Use a dry, gloved hand to cover and warm frostbite on your face, nose or ears. Don't rub areas affected by frostbite and never rub snow on frostbitten skin.
  • Get out of the cold as soon as you can. Once you're indoors, place frostbitten hands or feet in water slightly warmer than normal body temperature (100 to 105 degrees F). Don't apply direct heat, such as a heating pad.
  • As your skin thaws, it should turn red and you should feel a tingling and burning sensation as the skin warms. That means blood circulation is returning to the area. If the skin remains numb or you experience sustained pain while warming the skin, you should seek emergency medical care.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about frostbite.


Reference Source 101

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