Beware of frostbite in winter! How to protect your skin
Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, for those of us who were waiting to get out there and enjoy winter activities, winter sports and, of course, the winter holidays.
But you must be mindful of the consequences the frosty season can have on your body. Prolonged exposure to the cold weather rapidly affects your skin, causing chapped lips and frostbite, and breathing in the air at very low temperatures can irritate your respiratory system.
Why winter affects your nose and lungs
Air enters our bodies through the nose and mouth that are by nature coated with a thin layer of fluid. These passageways naturally warm up and humidify the inhaled air before it reaches the lungs, so we can breathe it in easier.
But in winter our airways have a harder time keeping the air we draw in warm and humid, because cold air is dry, and when we go out, that chilled air immediately absorbs some our body’s moisture.
This effect might cause an irritation to the nose and throat, which makes it a little harder to breathe, or might produce a contraction of the upper airways, setting off an asthma attack that usually involves coughing.
If you have ever felt suddenly breathless when you stepped outside, now you know that it’s not the freezing air that made you to feel this way, it’s the lack of humidity.
What can you do?
Cover your nose and mouth before going outside, to protect from a rush of cold air, and to also warm up the air before entering into your lungs.
You can also try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth inside your winter scarf, so that the exhaled warm air that meets the cold air will create moisture that can help, to some extent, humidify the nose.
Why lips get chapped easier during cold days
The lips, one of the most sensitive areas of the body, are very often exposed to the winter weather.
Chapped lips are common in the cold season, and can appear due to:
excessive lip licking, irritating cosmetic products, freezing temperatures, high wind speeds, exposure to UV sun rays, and indoor heating.
We often use balms to keep the lips moisturized during winter, but some ingredients like camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol can inflame the skin, and paired up with the cold weather, it isn’t a very good sign if you feel a tingling sensation in your lips.
When exposed repeatedly to the cold air outside, then the heated air inside, the flexibility of the top layer of your skin reduces significantly, and if you also unconsciously remove the surface film that naturally protects your lips by frequent licking (the enzymes from the saliva can also irritate the lips), then this can lead to lose moisture, causing reddening, inflammation and flaking.
Same as was for your respiratory system, the lack of humidity in the winter air can dry out your lips. They are easy to treat and aren't a huge cause for concern, but if dry lips aren't addressed, it can lead to small fissures that cause bloody lips.
What can you do?
Use a Lip Balm with non-irritating ingredients, several times a day, to keep them moisturized and protect your lips from cold and dry air.
Keep hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day, to have your whole body hydrated, will help keep your lips from getting overly dry in the winter.
Cover your mouth before going outside, and avoid licking your lips too often if you’re out in the cold.
Beware of frostbite and frostnip!
Exposing your skin to below-freezing temperatures can cause frostnip and frostbite. Anyone can get frostbite, but children are exposed to a greater risk to it than adults, because kids don’t usually want to leave the play to go inside and warm up, thus losing their body heat faster.
So what is frostnip?
Frostnip is a moderate frostbite that hurts the skin. It affects the skin that’s exposed directly to the cold - cheeks, nose, ears, fingers, and toes, causing a change in skin color - redness, a cold feeling on the affected area, followed by numbness or a tingly sensation.
Don’t worry; frostnip will not permanently damage the skin if you attend to it right away. It can be treated at home and gets better with rewarming.
Just remove all wet clothes, place the cold part of the body in warm water (warm, not hot), for 20-30 minutes, till all sensation of the skin reappear. Avoid warming affected skin with radiators, heating pads, stoves, because if the skin is numb you can’t feel when you burn.
What is frostbite?
Frostbite is a more serious skin injury than frosnip, also caused by freezing temperatures, and it can be a superficial frostbite or a deep frostbite.
A superficial frostbite affects the upper skin layers. The skin looses its color, turning white, feels numb, hardens and sometimes a false sensation of warmth appears. In 12 to 36 hours after rewarming the skin, fluid-filled blisters might appear.
A deep frostbite injures deeper tissues and can go all the way down to the muscles and bones. You may experience numbness and limited movement, as joints or muscles stop working. In 24 to 48 hours after rewarming the skin, large blisters appear, and the affected tissue dies, hardening and turning black.
Regarding frostbite, you might need to call your doctor right away, or go to the emergency room. Change into dry clothes at a warm temperature and if the feet suffered from frostbite, avoid walking and ask someone to carry you.
How to avoid getting frostbite
Check weather forecasts. Even a brief exposure to extreme cold can cause frostbite. If you have to stay out longer, come frequently indoors to warm up.
Dress with appropriate clothes that protect from the wind and cold. Change out of wet shoes or clothes as soon as possible.
For all the above, prevention is key
To avoid affecting the respiratory system, getting chapped lips, or having your face affected by frostnip or frostbite, we recommend you try wearing a balaclava or a polar fleece neck warmer.
What is a Balaclava?
We covered this subject in this article >>> Read more about the Balaclava here <<<
What is a polar fleece neck warmer?
It’s a way thicker neck gaiter, if you’re familiar with the accessory, or simply put, it’s a substitute to a winter scarf.
Even if it’s called a neck warmer or winter gaiter, this item can be pulled up to cover your face and protect your nose, mouth and ears too.
It has a tubular structure and is more compact than a regular scarf, reducing the bulkness around the neck.
A winter neck warmer can be manufactured from various materials, but the fabric we call Polar Fleece is made out of synthetic fibers, in a way that is soft against the skin. It's a very good alternative for those allergic or get their skin easily irritated because of wool.
Polar fleece has some great features that are worth mentioning:
• keeps you warm by retaining the heat naturally generated by your body
• has hydrophobic properties - fabric tends to repel or fails to mix with water
• holds most of its insulating properties even when it gets wet
• dries faster than wool, as polar fleece stores less than 1% of its weight in water
Safeguard your health!
And the knowledge we just shared paired up with our love for sports and outdoor activities, drived us to create for you versatile and functional winter accessories, like the hinged mouth panel, 4 ways to wear Balaclava, the double layer, soft and stretchy Polar Fleece Neck Warmer, and the touchscreen and silicone palm grip Liner Gloves.
So next time you head out to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowmobile riding, or a winter hike or fishing trip, you know whatelse you need to pack to protect from the elements.
Discover GOT® winter accessories collection. Choose your favorite and have fun out there...