Avoid frostbite this ski season

How to avoid frostbite during this Ski Season

Winter is upon us which means Ski season is upon us. In the Month of September and October Ski resorts in Colorado take many measures of preparation in order for a successful season. Whats even cooler is that the popular ski culture in Colorado isn’t limited to natives that live in this state. People from all over the world come to enjoy our winters and the opportunity to ski that they bring!

With all this skiing madness during the winter months, it’s important to remember a few tips to avoid injuries and keep good foot health. Follow this guide and you’ll be able to move forward on your skiing trip knowing what to avoid.

Frostbite while skiing

Some may argue that getting frostbite while skiing is the skier’s fault. That’s up to you to decide. Frostbite occurs when our skin is exposed to the extremities of winter. When we are unable to get somewhere warm in time. Our toes are one of the most vulnerable places that our body can get frostbite at.

There are multiple degrees of frostbite.

In the early stages of frostbite, it starts out as Frostnip. This stage of frostbite doesn’t have lasting or permanent damage to the skin. The symptoms of Frostnip can include tingling in the affected area, red or pale discoloration, and a faint numbness.

Then there is superficial frostbite. Still, during this stage of frostbite, your skin may appear discolored with shades of red or just paleness. There is the possibility of ice crystals forming within the skin tissue and skin can begin to feel warm. 1-2 Days after this stage of frostbite, fluid-filled blisters may appear as well.

Lastly, you have Severe Frostbite (deep). During this stage of frostbite, all the layers of skin in the affected area will be damaged to an extent. This is the type of frostbite that is often portrayed in movies where the skin turns black a day or so after initial contact with the cold. Some people lose feeling and control of the muscles in the affected area too. Not a good thing to come by.

Now that you know what frostbite is, its different stages, and why it’s essentially one of the worst outcomes of being exposed to harsh winter elements let’s look at how to avoid frostbite at all costs while you’re skiing.

Staying safe from frostbite

Some of the ways to treat frostbite or help the healing process are simple and some include actually getting medical attention.

Getting out of the cold
If possible you should leave whatever area you’re in that exposed you to frostbite in the first place. If you’re out on the mountain skiing and start to notice frostbite symptoms then you should immediately head to the ski lodge, your cabin, or somewhere indoors. Again that’s if you’re able to without calling the entire mountain air support to come and save you!

Stay off your feet
When any stage of frostbite is in action on your feet your skin and the underlying tissue become very fragile. You don’t want to risk damaging the skin further or creating a fracture by walking on the foot or continuing to ski down the mountain.

Wrapping the area
This is best done with a blanket or cloth with similar materials. If nearby you should use one to wrap the area where the frostbite is and be sure to cover it all. This is a good way to temporarily trap heat in the area while you’re on the way to get other types of help.

Changing clothes
If you have on wet or damp clothes you should try to change them out for a dry pair of clothes as soon as possible. The same applies to footwear that may become wet or damp. Since you ideally want as much heat inside your body while you have frostbite, the dry clothes will assist to that. While wet clothes take away from that warm body heat that you need.

Treatments for frostbite that you will see at the hospital include painkillers to help ease the pain while rewarming occurs on the feet. It’s also not uncommon to see antibiotics to aide in the battle of infections that may have come into your body through severe frostbite.

Preparing feet for cold conditions

The precautions needed to prepare yourself for cold conditions are so simple you’d be surprised you didn’t already think of them. Or, maybe you have thought of them and needed a reminder for your next big ski trip.

First and foremost wearing appropriate clothing is key. This means you need to bring out the north face jackets, gloves, and snow pants. Some people like to layer up as well which isn’t a super bad idea during the cold but the body heats up a lot faster with layers. If clothing you wear to start the day becomes wet to make sure to change into a dry pair of clothes so this means to bring a backup outfit (s) if you can.

For the less experienced skiers only stick to in resort areas that have other people on it. The last thing you want is to get caught up somewhere in the backcountry, lost, and catch a case of frostbite.

Finally, even with a whole list of precautions we still tend to get cold outside during winter. It’s okay and natural. Just take a break to go drink some hot chocolate or watch home alone. Then get back on the mountain and do your thing!

If you’re recovering from frostbite or have questions about the condition give our office a call at (303) 422-6043 where our doctors would be happy to help. Or save yourself the time and schedule online at tmfa.co/visit!