Chilblains or frostbite occur when body tissue is exposed to cold, damp weather and wind. Fingers, toes, ears, and nose are most commonly affected by chilblains because they are harder to keep warm. Because frostbite can cause permanent damage to the tissues of the skin, it is important to watch the weather, wear appropriate clothing, and act immediately if you suspect you may have frostbite.
Part 1 of 3: Wear appropriate clothing
Step 1. Check the weather before going outside
Take the time to look at the weather forecast to decide what to wear today. To avoid chilblains, be as prepared as possible. If you're going to be outside all day, frostbite is easy to see depending on the weather, whether you're hiking or queuing outside for concert tickets.
Step 2. Make sure you are wearing enough clothing in case the temperature drops drastically
Winter weather can be unpredictable. While you may be well equipped for the afternoon temperatures, you should also consider preparing for colder evening or night temperatures in case it gets later than you expected.
Step 3. Be prepared for unexpected blizzards or strong winds
If you are exposed to wet snow and cold wind, you are more likely to develop frostbite.
Step 4. Wear one layer on top of the other
People who spend a lot of time outside have developed some kind of system for dressing for winter weather. No matter how warm your winter coat is, it won't be as effective as an outfit made up of multiple layers. A good presentation for winter weather is based on the following principles:
Step 5. Wear moisture-regulating fabric, so-called functional underwear, close to the skin in the first layer
It's a type of synthetic fabric that prevents the skin from staying damp.
Step 6. Wear a warm cloth over it
Wool is a good choice. Never wear cotton because it doesn't dry quickly enough and doesn't insulate well.
Step 7. Wear a fabric suitable for the weather as the top layer
Your winter coat, a rain jacket, or a combination of the two should make up the top layer to protect you from the elements.
Step 8. Examine your clothes for gaps
Make sure your skin isn't exposed to the cold anywhere. Most of the time, this is where your pants and shirt meet, or on the wrists, ankles, and neck. Chilblains could occur in these areas, but they are not the most affected areas. However, you should take precautions in case.
Step 9. Make sure you tuck your undershirt tightly into your pants
Step 10. Pull your socks over the legs of the pants
Step 11. Pull your gloves over your sleeves
Step 12. You need special protection for your head, hands and feet
Chilblains are most common on the head, as well as on the hands and feet. These body parts are on the outside and therefore do not benefit from the different layers of your clothing. This means that you need to take extra care to dress these body parts properly so that they stay as warm as possible.
Step 13. Wear a warm hat with ear flaps
Step 14. Protect your eyes and nose in very cold temperatures
Maybe you want to get yourself a ski mask.
Step 15. Wear mittens instead of gloves; they are warmer
Step 16. Wear suitable shoes and socks
If you expect to get wet, wear waterproof boots.
Part 2 of 3: When to Go Inside
Step 1. Bring children inside to warm up every hour
Children are more prone to chilblains because they fail to recognize warning signs. A child could lose a mitt and go numb without thinking about it for a moment. Bring children inside often, especially when it's very cold outside. This will keep them safe.
Step 2. Take shelter if you get caught in a severe storm or extreme cold
Chilblains can develop very quickly in low temperatures or in strong winds or rainfall. When weather conditions change, it is important to seek shelter as soon as possible.
Step 3. Change your clothes immediately or go inside if you get wet
Wet clothing on the skin increases the risk of chilblains. Keep clothing dry, especially socks and gloves or mittens. Bring extra gloves or mittens, or dry them indoors if they get wet.
Step 4. Check your skin for chilblains every half hour
This is especially important when you are in very cold temperatures. Look at your skin, press down on it to feel how firm it is, and wiggle your fingers and toes. Early signs of chilblains include:
Step 5. Light frostbite:
This is the first phase. One will have painful sensations and red skin that reacts normally to pressure.
Step 6. Superficial frostbite:
In the second stage, numbness occurs and the skin turns white or greyish-yellow, but it is still soft to the touch.
Step 7. Deep-seated frostbite:
This type of frostbite is very dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. Look for numbness and white or greyish-yellow skin that is waxy to the touch and unusually firm. Dizziness, confusion, and fever may also occur.
Part 3 of 3: Handling possible chilblains
Step 1. Go to a warm place immediately
If you show any of the first signs of frostbite, go inside and warm up. Remove wet clothes and put on dry ones, or use a warm blanket to warm up. Have a warm beverage like tea, hot cocoa, or just warm water to rewarm your body.
Step 2. Don't go outside after you warm up
The affected part of the body will easily take further damage if you go outside. Don't risk it just because you want to go skiing or hiking again.
Step 3. If you can't find a warm spot or you are too far from the nearest heated building, seek shelter from the wind and call for help
Step 4. Immerse the affected area in warm water
Fill a bowl or saucepan with warm water and submerge the affected area for 30 to 40 minutes. Don't use hot water as it will heat the skin too quickly and damage the tissues.
Step 5. Have someone who does not have frostbite test the water to make sure it is warm and not hot
A person with frostbite may not be able to properly sense the temperature.
Step 6. After about 30 to 40 minutes you should have regained the feeling in the affected part of the body
The color should also start to go back to normal. When the tissues begin to warm up, it is normal to have severe pain.
Step 7. Do not heat the area using any other method
Not treating the tissue with care can do a lot of damage. All you should do is use warm water to warm up to get back to the right temperature. Avoid the following:
Step 8. Do not rub the skin with your hands or with a towel
Step 9. Do not use dry heat as numb skin is easy to burn
Step 10. Get medical attention or see a doctor to evaluate the injuries
Mild frostbite may be self-treating, but more severe frostbite could cause long-term damage. It is important to seek medical help if you experience the following symptoms:
Step 11. Bubble formation
Step 12. Loss of feeling
Step 13. Pale or discolored skin
Step 14. Secretions from the affected area
Step 15. Fever, confusion, or dizziness
Step 15. Fever, confusion, or dizziness