Meteorologists are noting that Pyeongchang in 2018 might be the coldest Olympics since 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. The athletes, coaches, course workers, photographers and spectators are being advised to take precautions against the cold and the serious potential of frostbite.
Frostbite is a dangerous cold-weather condition that can happen to anyone, from the most experienced winter athlete and outdoorsman to your neighbor shoveling her driveway. Frostbite can result in various degrees of skin damage from an irritation to blistering to permanent tissue death. The hands and feet are particularly susceptible to frostbite because the body is busy working hard to keep the internal organs warm.
Frostbite starts by producing a burning, tingling sensation in the exposed areas. This is followed by numbness in the affected area (toes or feet) and changes in skin color, from pale or red to bluish-gray or black and feel hard to the touch. Children, the elderly, and diabetics are more prone to frostbite because of the size of their extremities or poor circulation. Severe frostbite may necessitate amputation of the affected toe(s), or possibly the entire foot. Other consequences may include
- Frostbite arthritis , a condition resulting from damage to the bones and cartilage
- Permanent numbness or other nerve damage
- Increased susceptibility to frostbite in the future
You can avoid frostbitten feet by taking a few precautions. Wear warm, moisture-wicking socks, layering thick socks over thin ones to help trap heat. Wear warm, waterproof winter boots out in cold temperatures and limit how much time you spend in the cold.