Winter Cycling - frostbite
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11-30-05, 10:04 PM
ever get it riding? what were the circumstances?
dsm iv tr
12-01-05, 02:23 AM
Left hand, torn mitten, snow falling.
I didn't even notice until I got home and was washing my hands that the hot water suddenly REALLY stung. Be careful out there, especially if you're in the north (currently I'm in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, but I was further north at the time).
I may have had mild cases of it now and then but I worry more about it now than I used too. It is easy for me to ignor cold hands and feet until I get home and find out how cold they are and than worry if I have dammaged them.
12-01-05, 11:24 AM
Some folks have had frostbite on their middle leg. Don't forget to cover him and boys with an extra wool sock.
12-01-05, 02:47 PM
I picked up a little a couple weeks ago on a route I regularly ride and I've ridden it before and since when it was colder, the difference was that I was just carrying a little more speed in a flat section-maybe 13 or 14 mph. Wind-chill factor in action!
12-01-05, 02:52 PM
I got a little on my forehead a few weeks back. My headband didn't cover the gap between my glasses and the helmet on one side. It was peeling for about 3 weeks, but agressive moisturizing seems to have repaired the damage. There's still a dark spot about the size of a nickle. I'm wearing two balaclavas under my helmet now for complete ninja coverage.
12-01-05, 02:55 PM
yes, I got it lots and lots as a kid, definetly protect ALL the extremities!
What happens in frostbite, simply, is the water in your skin freezes. Simple.
usually on exposed flesh, but you can certainly get it thru clothing and mittens etc.
The sensation is on of dullness, your skin feels tough, kind of rubbery, and waxy.
If someone is with you, have them look for pale, waxy looking patches on your skin....red is usually still a sign of a little circulation, white is bad.
Do not rub skin that is already frosted; but you can keep skin from advancing that far by rubbing it frequently.
Once you have it, best to leave your body part as is until you return home; defrosting while out in the field, then having the frostbite refreeze is doubly bad.
And at home, slow rewarming is less painful/damaging than rapid rewarming, but it still feels like laying on a red hot bed of needles while taking a nap in a nest of fire ants.
Frostbite is a medical condition that can happen to anyone. In the most basic terms frostbite is when the skin and/or the tissue under the skin freezes and causes cell damage. This is caused by exposure to cold, either through the air or through a chemical exposure, like to dry ice (frozen CO2) or highly compressed gasses. Under extreme conditions frostbite can occur in seconds.
The elderly, young children, people with circulator disorders, and people from tropical climates have a higher risk factor of getting frostbite. People who have had previous cold injuries are also particularly at risk of getting injuries again in the same places.
Frostbite comes in three levels of severity or degrees.
First degree, also called frost nip: Most people who live in very cold climates or do a lot of outdoor activity in the winter have had first degree frostbite (just as most people have had a first degree burn when they get sunburn). Frost nip presents itself as numbed skin that has turned white in color. The skin may feel stiff to the touch, but the tissue under is still warm and soft. There is very little chance of blistering, infection or permanent scarring as long as it is treated properly.
Second degree, superficial frostbite: Superficial frostbite is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. The skin will be white or blue and will feel hard and frozen. The tissue underneath is still undamaged. Blistering is likely which is why medical treatment should be sought out. Proper treatment is critical to prevent severe or permanent injuries.
Third degree, deep frostbite: The skin is white, blotchy and/or blue. The tissue underneath is hard and cold to the touch. This is a life threatening injury. Deep frostbite needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. The tissue underneath has been damaged, in severe cases amputation may be the final recourse to prevent severe infection. Blistering will happen. Proper medical treatment in a medical facility with personnel trained to deal with severe frostbite injuries is required to aid in the prevention of severe or permanent injury.
Just what does frostbite do to the tissues? When you are exposed to cold with the extremities including your feet, hands, nose, ears, and face being at the highest risk, the blood vessels constrict. This is a natural reaction to prevent body heat loss and hypothermia. With a loss of warming blood flow (or in extreme cases where blood flow can not compete with the extreme cold) the fluid within your cells and tissues start to freeze forming ice crystals. These ice crystals take up more room within the cells then when in a fluid state, and cause the cells to rupture. Also, sudden warming can cause the cells to rupture. This is why large blisters can form when there is superficial or severe frostbite.
Frostbite can occur in as little as thirty-seconds in extreme conditions, and even faster in the case of chemical injuries (which we won't cover here). Factors like wind chill, alcohol consumption, altitude, getting wet or being damp and how long you are exposed to the cold all impact how quickly and how severe frostbite can be. Long term exposure to moderate cold with wet boots can cause a more serious injury than a short-term exposure to severe cold with inadequate boots in the case of your feet. It is a complex equation that needs to be weighed careful when being outdoors in the cold.
Most people in colder climates will have experienced frostnip. It is fairly rare, fortunately, for the condition to reach the stage of frostbite.
As a typical Canadian raised in the north and on the prairies, I have experienced frostnip several times, under several different circumstances including while cycling. I don't believe I have ever experienced frostbite.
12-01-05, 08:16 PM
As an atypical American, a Yooper, I was skiing to school, sleeping in snowbanks while drunk, growing up in a place that let me get that way, and started winter camping at age 11.
Since then I've spent 100s and 100s of days winter camping and mountaineering/expeditioneering, during all of which I've had frostbite more than once, and frostnip plenty. I forgot of the important distinction of 'frostnip' versus the more serious 'frostbite.' I haven't lost any toes or fingers to it yet.
12-02-05, 08:43 AM
There must also be a Zero degree, pre-frostbite condition. I used to ride to school without gloves at temps around 55-60. Hands were cold/cold during ride but not burning cold. Now, years later, my hands are very sensitive to the cold and I need warmer gloves.
Learning opportunity-- don't underestimate long term effects of riding with mildly cold hands.
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