Winter often sneaks up on us, with its blustery cold, snow and wind, but for many of us, being outdoors is a necessity or even an enjoyable pastime. If you are planning a winter ski trip, other outdoor sports, work outdoors, or spend a lot of time outside in the winter for any reason, it is important to keep yourself and your family prepared by taking certain measures to plan ahead and stay safe. Even short periods of time outdoors in very cold temperatures or extreme snow and wind can be dangerous.
Outdoor activities can expose you to several safety hazards, but you can take these steps to prepare for them:
Dress Appropriately for the Temperature and Conditions
Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
Sunscreen Is Important in All Seasons
No, sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Winter sun can still damage your skin, and it also reflects off the surface of snow. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they’re exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you are staying outside for a long time.
Watch for Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite
According to Erik C. Alexander, a board-certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “recognizing the early warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia are key to being able to treat them safely and successfully. Signs of frostbite are pale, red, grey or blistered skin on the fingers, ears, nose, and toes sometimes associated with numbness or pain. It can often be difficult to recognize until the areas are warmed back up. If you think you have frostbite get indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech, and unusual clumsiness. If you think you have hypothermia call 9-1-1 immediately.”
Protect Your Hands
The skin on your hands is more susceptible to drying, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.
Your Local Skin Experts at Forefront Dermatology are here to Help
Establishing a relationship with a board-certified dermatologist is an important step you should take to keep your skin healthy, especially if you suffer from an itchy, painful, or irritating skin condition. If you or a family member have a skin concern or would like to schedule a consult, find the Forefront dermatologist nearest you to schedule an appointment or to learn more.