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Surviving the Mitten State: How Not to Get Bitten By Frostbite

Temperatures have intermittently dipped just below freezing here in good old pure Michigan, and especially in Detroit, making it that much more important to bundle up.

When the body becomes cold, blood vessels, located at distal sites (those farthest from the center of the body), constrict and clamp down. This reaction is in an effort to decrease blood flow and heat loss distally, thereby increasing blood flow and warmth to vital core organs, such as the heart. Unfortunately, this leaves our fingers, nose, ears, and toes susceptible to frostbite!

Follow these helpful dermatology tips to stay warm and reduce the risk of frostbite this winter season. Happy #DermTipTuesday!


1. Dress in layers

The more layers the merrier, including on the feet. The first layer should be waterproof to protect the feet from snow or moisture that may enter the shoe or boot. The second layer should be intended to give added warmth and can then be removed once you reach your destination to avoid overheating. Nice cozy wool socks are not only warm, but make for great stocking stuffers.

2. Cover the head, face, and fingers

A hat to protect the ears, scarf or gaiter to protect the face and nose, and insulated gloves for the fingers are all absolute necessities for below zero weather. And luckily, with so many accessory options these days, you don't have to sacrifice fashion for function. Touchscreen gloves, for example, are stylish, practical, and warm; unlike fingerless gloves that are absolutely useless during the winter, unless they are being used for layering.

3. Keep moving

Movement will help maintain blood flow and generate warmth to all areas of the body, including the skin.

4. Don't ignore the signs

Pain is our body's way of alerting us that something is wrong. The initial sypmptoms of frostbite may include a burning, throbbing, or pens-and-needles sensation while a late symptom is numbness. An early sign of frostbite is redness. If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, head indoors immediately for rewarming.


Have more questions? Ask away. Receive an answer from our board-certified dermatologist today for free.

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