How can I prevent frostbite?

A Answers (4)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    1 086 04-2 Frostbite
    The ears are one of the first places we get frostbite. Learn how to prevent frostbite in this video with Dr. Oz.

  • One key way to prevent frostbite is to avoid spending too much time outside on cold and windy days. If you do venture out in these conditions, keep your ears, toes, and fingers covered and warm. Wearing multiple layers of clothing in cold weather helps, too. Preparing the car or home for winter emergencies, including keeping extra blankets handy, can also prevent frostbite.
  • ARealAge answered
    To prevent frostbite, take these precautions.
    • Layer your clothing. Multiple layers of light, loose-fitting clothing are more effective than one thick layer. Wear two pairs of socks.
    • Stay dry. Your body loses heat faster when it becomes wet. Wear waterproof outer layers. Wear boots that cover your ankles.
    • Protect yourself from the wind. Wind robs the body of heat faster than does cold air alone. Wear windproof outer layers and boots.
    • Wear a hat to prevent heat loss from your head.
    • Wear mittens instead of gloves. Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves.
    • Avoid drinking alcohol, which causes the blood to lose heat rapidly.
    • Avoid smoking, which slows down the circulation of blood to the extremities.
    • If an area of your body starts to feel tingly, painful or numb from the cold, stop what you are doing and warm the affected area. Apply heat, rub or better yet, get out of the cold. Do not ignore these symptoms. These are the beginning signs of frostbite. If you feel that you already have frostbite, do not rub the affected area or apply direct heat. 
    • Keep blankets or protective clothing in your car, in case you become stranded in cold weather.
    Things to Remember
    • Keep a close eye on children and the elderly because they may not be able to tell you when they are too cold.
    • People who take beta-blocker medications and people with atherosclerosis are particularly susceptible to frostbite, as these conditions decrease the flow of blood to the skin.
    • You might be desensitized to the beginning sensations of frostbite if you are fatigued, drinking alcohol, or suffering from lack of oxygen due to high elevation.

  • AJill Grimes, MD, Family Medicine, answered

    To prevent frostbite, dress in layers, cover all exposed areas, avoid alcohol (or any drugs that can alter mental status), and avoid electively going outside when it is too cold.

    Frostbite shows up when the thermometer reads in the negative in Celsius or below minus 17 in Fahrenheit.

    Other factors can raise your risk of getting frostbite, including alcohol use, being a smoker, previous cold injury, low calorie intake, lean body mass, and history of Reynaud's phenomenon (where the blood supply to the hands gets restricted and your hands turn red/purple and ache terribly).

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