Exposure to extreme cold for a long time can damage your skin and the tissues underneath. That damage is called frostbite, and it’s the most common freezing injury. Frostbite doesn’t just hurt, it can lead to dangerous health consequences if not caught and treated in time. With the arrival of colder temperatures, it's the start of another frostbite season and it's important to take steps to avoid frostbite.
Prevention is the easiest way to avoid frostbite.
Any part of your body can suffer from frostbite, but your extremities – hands, feet, nose, and ears – are the most at risk. The most common contributors to frostbite are wet clothing, exposure to high winds, and poor blood circulation. Blood flow may be restricted due to things you can control such as:
- Tight clothing or boots.
- Sitting or crouching in a cramped position.
- Smoking or alcohol use.
Poor circulation is also an issue for people who take beta-blocker medications or who have medical conditions that affect the blood vessels, such as diabetes or Raynaud’s phenomenon.