My fingertips froze on a winter hike last February when I took off my gloves to adjust a pair of ski goggles and my hands came in contact with fresh snow. It was freezing out and the wind was blowing, the snow melted on my fingers and I guess my fingertips froze. It happened in a split second, but I felt the effects for 6 months afterwards.
First degree frostbite, also called frostnip, occurs when the surface of your fingers freeze. The underlying tissue of my fingers was unaffected, but I developed numb, waxy looking white areas on my finger tips. It took about 6 months for me to get full sensation back, and even now, it feels like my fingers are still missing some of their former sensitivity.
Nothing much happened for a week after the incident, but then all of the skin on my fingertips flaked off. My fingertips didn’t blister, which would have been an indication of more severe case of frostbite, but it was still a little disconcerting. The skin grew back just fine and my fingertips stopped looking white and waxy eventually and turned pink again. My fingernails kept splitting and cracking for about 9 months afterwards, but have returned to normal again.
I’ve gotten my hands wet on snow before on winter hikes, so the suddenness and severity of getting frostnip really caught me by surprise. It hasn’t cooled my enthusiasm for winter hiking, but you can rest assured I’m going to be a lot more careful about keeping my hands covered with insulation this winter, even if it means a loss of dexterity.
I never thought it would happen to me.
Written 2016.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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