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Many people like to ski in Massachusetts each year. However, whether you are a seasoned skier or you are just starting to learn, there are several kinds of perils to consider before you go out on the slopes. You may have already thought about the possibility of falling or having other accidents. However, you may not have thought about another possible danger when you ski: frostbite. Before you head out for a day on the slopes, you need to know a bit about frostbite and how you can prevent it.

What is frostbite?

Just as the name implies, frostbite is literally the freezing of the tissues of your body. Interestingly, your ears, fingers and toes are the most susceptible areas of your body. Frostbite comes in three different levels: frostnip, superficial frostbite and deep frostbite. Frostnip does not lead to permanent damage but causes the skin, usually the face, ears and fingertips, to feel numb. Superficial frostbite affects the outer skin and deep frostbite gets under the skin and causes permanent damage.

What causes frostbite?

There are generally two ways to get frostbite. Either you have spent too much time exposed to cold temperatures or you have spent a short amount of time exposed to extremely cold temperatures. If your skin begins to feel numb or like it is being stuck with pins, you may be experiencing symptoms. You may also feel burning, pain and severe itching when the cold wears off. A severe case can even turn the skin black and feel hard, waxy and numb.

How can you prevent frostbite?

No matter how long you plan to be outside on the slopes, it is very important to take breaks and get out of the cold every once in a while. If your clothes are wet and cold, you should get out of them immediately. You should also remove any clothing and jewelry that is restrictive and make sure the blood gets flowing properly throughout your body. If you have an area that feels like it has a case of frostnip, immerse it in warm but not hot water.

Of course, there are also other preventative measures you can take that can keep frostbite away. Dressing adequately is the first step in preventing any level of frostbite. You should layer your clothing and use a fabric that can wick moisture as the innermost layer. Two layers of socks can help you protect your feet. You also may not have realized that wearing mittens rather than gloves can help you protect your fingers more adequately.

Although you may be tempted, you should also avoid drinking alcohol before you head out and while you are out on the slopes. You may not realize that you are becoming too cold under the influence of alcohol. You also do not want to smoke since smoking constricts blood vessels. However, when you finally get out on the slopes, you should move around as much as possible. These are a few ways to prevent frostbite when you ski.