Texting gloves dangerous in winter, specialist says: Unprotected fingers, toes, ears and noses susceptible to frostbite

February 28, 2013

The popular half-gloves that leave fingers uncovered for texting may be good for communicating electronically, but they may also lead to permanent loss of fingers due to exposure to the cold.

"Fingers are one of the first body parts to feel the effects of the cold and damp, and along with toes, ears and the nose, are frequently subjected to frostbite and even ," said Arthur Sanford, MD, Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns, Loyola University Health System. "Better to fat finger a text due to winter gloves than to lose a finger due to the cold."

Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and those with large exposed areas. "Blood vessels start to constrict at or below 90 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve body temperature," Sanford said. "The lack of blood in these areas of the body can lead to freezing and the death of ."

Sanford said he treats frostbite in people of all ages. "The senior citizen who goes out in the snow to get her mail, falls, breaks a hip and lies in the cold and wet until being discovered is a typical victim of frostbite," he said. "But the younger person who goes on a drinking bender and walks home in the snow and damp is also a familiar sight at Loyola trauma."

When suffering from prolonged exposure to cold, use room temperature or slightly to gently revitalize the body. "Do not use hot water, do not rub with handfuls of snow and do not vigorously massage the frozen area," Sanford warned. Overstimulation can actually worsen the situation.

Winter wellness tips from Sanford and Loyola:

Dress in layers. "If a sweater, pair of socks or other article of clothing gets wet, you can quickly remove it and still be protected from the cold and wet," he said. 

  • Wear a hat, gloves or mittens and proper footwear, including socks and boots. "Texting gloves may look cool and be handy for communicating, but it is better to wear full gloves or mittens and save your fingers," Sanford said.
  • When outerwear becomes wet, go inside and change to dry clothing. "Wet socks are especially dangerous and can lead to a condition called trench foot, which results in poor blood circulation, tissue decay, infections and even amputation," he said.
  • If the affected area becomes numb, turns red or blue, swells or feels hot, go to the Emergency Department. "An Emergency physician will assess the tissue and take the proper steps to save the body part," Sanford said.
Hypothermia, when the temperature is below 95 degrees F (35 degrees C), was the cause of death for 700 Americans between 1979 and 1998.  " 'Frostbite in January, operate in July,' is a common mantra here at Loyola," Sanford said. "Bundling up for winter may take you out of media circulation temporarily but better that than to permanently lose the ability to text due to ."

Explore further: Extreme cold snap brings unexpected health risks

Related Stories

Extreme cold snap brings unexpected health risks

January 24, 2013
(HealthDay)—As extreme cold blankets many parts of the United States, one expert warns that frigid temperatures can put people at greater risk not only for hypothermia and frostbite, but also for stroke, heart attack and ...

The Medical Minute: Avoiding two winter weather-related problems

January 17, 2012
Though it may not have felt like winter until recently, it is that time of year when environmental exposures to the cold weather will be causing many problems for people. Here are some tips for preventing and safely treating ...

Winter sports safety: Preparation is key

January 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—The outdoor winter sports season is in full swing, which means it's a good time to remind people about winter sports safety tips, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Recommended for you

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.