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Is Jack Frost Nipping At Your Nose?
Date:1/13/2009

Then warm up - and protect yourself from the dangers of frostbite

ROSEMONT, Ill., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Severe temperatures are hitting most of the country this week, but cold weather is no excuse to sit inside over the long winter months. If you do go outside for some fresh air and exercise, make sure to guard yourself from frostbite. When body tissues are frostbitten, skin cells become damaged -- sometimes permanently. Therefore, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has some suggestions to help keep your skin safe from the cold.

"It takes only minutes for exposed skin to become frostbitten if the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour or more," says Taizoon Baxamusa, MD, spokesperson for the AAOS. "Your hands, fingers, feet, toes, and ears are especially susceptible, so you need to take special care protecting them."

Frostbitten areas may feel numb or hard and frozen, and may appear waxy, white, or grayish. Symptoms such as cold sensitivity, numbness, or chronic pain may last for years after an incident of frostbite; in extreme cases, the frostbitten tissue may be permanently damaged and need to be amputated.

The AAOS offers the following tips to help prevent frostbite:

  • Dress appropriately.
    • Light, loose, layered clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. Top your outfit with a water-repellent (not waterproof) fabric.
    • Additionally, check for gaps in your clothing (such as between your glove and sleeve) that might expose bare skin to the cold.

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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