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Fighting Frostbite

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Ski goggles may look silly off the slopes, but doctors say there's no excuse in weather like this to have any part of your body uncovered. That's because it won't take very long before just being a little too cold turns into something much more dangerous.

"Within about 10 minutes you're going to get a frostbite to the face and that may just be redness," said St. Luke's University Hospital Emergency Department Physician Dr. Donald Linder.

Doctors say ski goggles are a good idea because even after you're all bundled up, your eyes are the only part of your face that's still exposed.

"Snow goggles will do two things: keep your face warm and protect you from the UV damage," said Mercy Medical Center Emergency Room Doctor Dr. Matt Kemp.

That damage comes from light reflected off snow on the ground. Most folks know covering up is the first step but when you're finally out of the cold, "treat your skin just like you would treat it if it was sunburned," said Dr. Linder. "Put moisturizer on it. But sunblock on it, that will also help."

That's because frostbite is similar to sunburn in that it damages the deeper layers of your skin and opens you up to infection. But for those who already have frostbite, doctors say get inside and find dry clothes. If you feel pain, apply warm water.

"You don't want to have it in scalding water that will burn you, you just want to keep warmth on it," said Dr. Linder.

"If someone starts to feel numbness where they can't feel any sensation in the area, that's a sign to come to the Emergency Department," said Dr. Kemp.

Doctors say the best prevention is just staying inside. Even if someone just runs out for a second, if they slip and fall, they could be outside and exposed to the elements for much longer while they wait for help.
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