Baby, it’s cold outside…

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Playoff football can’t get any better than a snowy afternoon at Lambeau Field in Green Bay watching Brett Favre throw touchdown passes and snowballs on the field. But with the temperatures below freezing and the wind driving the snow sideways, I wondered about the sanity of short sleeved football players on the field. There is not doubt that elite players will generate enough heat to keep warm when playing, but how cold does it get waiting on the sideline?

Exposed skin does not tolerate sub-freezing temperature exposure well. Frostbite occurs when small ice crystals form in the tissues of exposed skin, damaging the structure of the skin itself. Because of the cold, the body shunts blood flow away from its out reaches like fingers, toes nose and ears and tries to keep the core of the body warm. This makes the cold exposure even worse because warm blood is not being circulated to cold exposed areas.

Frostbite has degrees of severity, just like burns, depending on how deep the damage goes through the layers of the skin. First degree frostbite (sometimes called frostnip) presents with cold and numbess followed by pain as rewarming occurs. With more severe frostbite, blisters can form but there can be a time lag before they are noticed. And with deepest frostbite, the blood supply to tissue is lost and skin tissue damage is irreversible. Within 3-4 weeks, the frostbitten area may develop dead areas that require surgery to remove or amputate.

Common things being common, frostbite tends to be superficial and the pain comes during the rewarming process. If possible, this should occur in warm water (about 100-105 degrees F) and not necessarily by an open flame. With numbness and difficulty with sensation, there is a risk of burning the skin because the person can’t appropriately feel the heat of the flame. Rubbing frostbitten areas isn’t recommended either, since the mechanical trauma can damage the fragile skin.

While the players may almost be excused for strutting on the field in less than ideal clothing, I appreciated that the television cameras didn’t show fans stripped to the waist celebrating in Green Bay. If I were to see bare chests in the stands, I might have the inclination to adjust the color on my set to get their cold blue skin to look more like the Packer green and gold.

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Baby, it’s cold outside…

Playoff football can’t get any better than a snowy afternoon at Lambeau Field in Green Bay watching Brett Favre throw touchdown passes and snowballs on the field. But with the temperatures below freezing and the wind driving the snow sideways, I wondered about the sanity of short sleeved football players on the field. There is not doubt that elite players will generate enough heat to keep warm when playing, but how cold does it get waiting on the sideline?

Exposed skin does not tolerate sub-freezing temperature exposure well. Frostbite occurs when small ice crystals form in the tissues of exposed skin, damaging the structure of the skin itself. Because of the cold, the body shunts blood flow away from its out reaches like fingers, toes nose and ears and tries to keep the core of the body warm. This makes the cold exposure even worse because warm blood is not being circulated to cold exposed areas.

Frostbite has degrees of severity, just like burns, depending on how deep the damage goes through the layers of the skin. First degree frostbite (sometimes called frostnip) presents with cold and numbess followed by pain as rewarming occurs. With more severe frostbite, blisters can form but there can be a time lag before they are noticed. And with deepest frostbite, the blood supply to tissue is lost and skin tissue damage is irreversible. Within 3-4 weeks, the frostbitten area may develop dead areas that require surgery to remove or amputate.

Common things being common, frostbite tends to be superficial and the pain comes during the rewarming process. If possible, this should occur in warm water (about 100-105 degrees F) and not necessarily by an open flame. With numbness and difficulty with sensation, there is a risk of burning the skin because the person can’t appropriately feel the heat of the flame. Rubbing frostbitten areas isn’t recommended either, since the mechanical trauma can damage the fragile skin.

While the players may almost be excused for strutting on the field in less than ideal clothing, I was thankful that the television cameras didn’t show fans stripped to the waist celebrating in Green Bay. If I were to see bare chests in the stands, I might have had the inclination to adjust the color on my set to get their cold blue skin to look more like the Packer green and gold.

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This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.