/ Frostbite

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mockerkin on 04 Mar 2013

I had frostbite years ago in my left hand from the tips of my fingers to just below the first knuckles. in Norway & now get numbness there when it gets very cold. That's northern England hills cold.
Ranulf Fiennes has been frostbitten & on a tv program about him yesterday they said that if you have had frostbite before it is easier to get it again.
Has anyone found tht to be true?
Withnail - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

Yes, you are more vulnerable to frostbite in the same area if you have received cold injury there before. There's been a fair amount of research in this area which supports this.

Nerve damage can obviously also occur.

News isn't all bad though. Prevention is key. All the common sense stuff like keeping hydrated, well fed, core warm and your hands warm and dry without anything constrictive (rings etc). Another option is vbl gloves.

Some people swear by Vapour Barrier clothing. There's a small american company called RBH designs who have a good reputation here. Some people with Reynaud's syndrome swear by their vbl gloves and mitts. Lots of polar and high altitude stuff been done with this kit.

hope that helps

Trevers - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

I have a question about frostbite which I might as well ask here...

A couple of times now on the hill I've lost feeling in my fingertips (right middle seems particularly susceptible). I squeeze them under my armpits, clap them together and clench/open a fist until the feeling returns and I get the hot aches. At this point, how far off am I from actually getting frostbite?
Full moon addict - on 05 Mar 2013
In reply to Trevers: quite a way off. I get this a lot as I suffer from Reynauds. if you lose all feeling for a long time then its time to worry.
ice.solo - on 05 Mar 2013
In reply to Trevers:

A fair way.

As someone who does what you describe basicly for a living, plus who has had frost nip and permanant cold injury (nerve damage but no permenant tissue damage), ive found it a big divide between those conditions so suspect true FB is a rung or two beyond that again.

The nip and permanant damage both occurred with little minimal sensation, but where to the feet (toes and inner forefoot) so i assume different to fingers anyway.

Am open to being enlightenend or proved wrong. A good question.
David Hillebrandt - on 05 Mar 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

You may find the mountaineering medical section of the BMC's website useful:

David Hillebrandt
NeilGriffiths - on 06 Mar 2013
In reply to mockerkin: I was told that your fingers will look normal but you will always know where you have had frost bite. Nearly all my finger tips were frost nipped with a couple on my right hand frost bitten. I know they are damaged and go out to play in the cold accordingly. They are more prone to feeling the cold - it is basically scar tissue and needs to be looked after more. I have been annoyingly fastidious keeping my hands dry and changing gloves, putting on fresh belay gloves etc., much to the annoyance of my climbing partners. When I have messed up a bit i.e. got my fingers cold and wet then I can see straight away the difference (and feel the throb!). Believe them medics and look after them extremities!
Jim Fraser - on 06 Mar 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

I suspect there is a residual element to every level of cold injury except that you will probably recover fully from the milder forms eventually if you're careful. I have come across guys on the hill who have had injuries previously and have had real problems especially if they are back out on the winter hill not long afterwards. From frostnip in a Himalayan season to problems undoing crampons in Glencoe a few months later was one example. I think you need at least a couple of years of looking after yourself, including care not to overheat damaged tissue.

I have never had frostbite but, in spite of fine examples of north european capillaries, my carelessness has led to the fingers on one hand being particularly vulnerable recently and I have had to learn to behave.

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