5 Essential Clothing Items for Preventing Frostbite

Winter in New York City can be very cold due to windy weather and temperatures that often reach below freezing. If you are not adequately prepared, you face a greater risk of suffering from frostbite, which occurs when the skin and deeper layers of tissue freeze.

Frostbite can introduce a variety of long-term complications such as long-term numbness in the affected area, changes in skin color, loss of nails, arthritis, and gangrene, which can lead to an amputation. It’s most likely to occur when a part of your body is insufficiently protected against cold weather, but factors such as alcohol usage, smoking, and a history of previous frostbite incidents can increase your risk.

One of the most important steps you can take to prevent frostbite is to stock your wardrobe with clothing that provides adequate protection against the cold. Make sure you have each of the following items:

An insulated, windproof hat that covers your ears: Your ears are at a greater risk of experiencing frostbite than other parts of your body, making it important to wear a hat that covers them and adequately protects them against cold temperatures and wind.

An adequately-insulated jacket: Some of the best jackets for protecting against cold weather are waterproof and feature down insulation with a fill power between 500 and 900, with the higher end of this range indicating superior quality. Other materials that offer good insulation include wool, silk, and fur. Types of jackets you may want to look for include puffer jackets and parkas.

Mittens: Your hands are typically better protected against the cold by mittens rather than gloves. As with your jacket, look for materials such as wool or silk to ensure your mittens can adequately retain heat.

Boots: Whether the weather conditions you walk in are snowy, rainy, or dry, winter boots can provide better protection against both cold wind and water than other types of footwear such as sneakers. As with other clothing items, look for boots that are waterproof, windproof, and insulated.

Moisture-wicking shirts and socks: Even in very cold weather, you can potentially work up a sweat, leaving you vulnerable to cold wind. Choose moisture-wicking shirts, socks, and other under-layers of clothing, as these will move the sweat you produce to their outer layers.

If you develop frostbite this winter, visit a doctor as soon as possible. You can schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.