A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Couch to Deer Camp: Keep fingers, toes from chillin’

2 pairs of winter boots with gloves inside

Protect your hands and feet from the chill with proper attire, technology and common sense.

Rain or shine, cold or mild, weather on Opening Day and throughout the gun deer season is unpredictable.

Some downright cold weather can prevail. Protect your hands and feet from the chill with proper attire, technology and common sense.

“Cold and stiff hands and feet can spoil your shot,” said Abby Mallek Karch, an Urgent Care physician assistant at Marshfield Clinic. “Prolonged exposure to cold and even very cool temperatures can affect reflexes, balance and motor skills you use to hold the gun properly and pull the trigger at the right time.”

Avoid frost nip

“Frostbite affects body parts furthest from the heart such as your fingers and toes,” Karch said. “Frost nip is your body’s early ‘red flag’ that signals you to come out of the cold before your skin experiences the potentially permanent damage of frostbite.”

Frost nip symptoms may include skin that looks pale, feels cold and is numb or stiff. At this stage, underlying tissue is usually warm and flexible.

“It’s uncomfortable, but shouldn’t lead to scarring if the tissue is warmed soon enough,” Karch said. “If you have a medical condition like diabetes or a nerve injury, or are on medications or treatments that affect hand, finger and toe sensitivity, you will need to be extra careful. These conditions make frost nip symptoms harder to recognize.”

Stay warm and dry

Follow these tips to protect skin and eyes from the cold:

  • Layer up with a combination of clothes that will keep you warm and dry. Bring extra socks, gloves and hats in case they get wet.
  • Take advantage of hand and foot warmer technology like rechargeable hand warmers or catalytic models that use lighter fluid, or disposable or reusable hand warmers and shoe inserts that heat up when exposed to air.
  • Keep eyes hydrated with rewetting eye drops if necessary, and moisturize your hands, lips and face.

If you get too cold:

  • Go inside or move to a warm place.
  • Remove wet clothing.
  • Don’t rub the affected area, apply direct heat or disturb blisters.

“Check a reliable weather report before you go out for the day and dress accordingly,” Karch said.

You can do this.

Couch to deer camp provides health information and is not intended to be medical advice. Talk with your doctor prior to beginning a program of regular physical activity.

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