Advice for jolly old St. Nick from our NCH physician specialists
Question: Santa works with his elves all year long for the “big day.” What would you suggest Santa do leading up to Christmas to make sure he is ready for the stress that comes with delivering presents to all the children in the world?
“I’d ask him to make sure he takes time out of his busy daily schedule for himself. For example, participating in Christmas Yoga with the Candy Cane Stretch (standing crescent), Elf on the Shelf pose (standing figure four stretch), or Sled pose (bow pose). Yoga is a great way to deal with stress and make time for yourself.”
Question: Santa slides down chimneys all night on Christmas Eve. What would you suggest to make sure he gets in and out of houses safely without hurting his back (or other areas)?
“Christmas Eve is like Santa’s Super Bowl. In order to perform at his best and avoid injuries on Game Day, he needs to prepare and train properly in the off season. With any workout, and especially with competition (or delivering millions of presents), warming up before the activity and stretching after the event are important to ensure he’s getting the most out of his training and reducing his risk of injury. The main areas he should target for training are his back and his knees. To protect his back while lifting that heavy bag of presents, he should work on core stability exercises and proper lifting techniques (i.e. lifting with his legs, not his back). To protect his knees while landing from a 1+ story slide down the chimney, he should work on leg strength, flexibility and stability. Losing a little weight also will help lessen the strain on his back and knees and help reduce his risk of injury. Santa should be sure to perform all of his exercises safely and think about finding an elf with specific training in teaching these exercises, such as a personal trainer or physical therapist. Despite all of those preventive measures, injuries can occur. If he has any new or nagging injuries, Santa should see his doctor.”
Question: Santa flies around the world in one night in a sleigh pulled by his reindeer. What precautions should Santa take to make sure he gets to each location safely? What should he have on hand in case something happens?
“Santa should make sure the elves get his sleigh in good working condition and he should always wear his seat belt. He should always have a supply of bottled water, food (like milk and cookies) and a cell phone in case he gets stuck on the way from the North Pole.”
Question: After all the traveling Santa has just done, what would you suggest to help combat his massive sugar crash?
“If Santa has a sudden drop in his blood sugar, he needs to get it back up quickly, since severely low blood sugars can be dangerous! He can boost it up quickly with glucose tablets, juice, a quick snack or even his preferred drink – milk.”
Question: The warmest the North Pole gets is 32 degrees F. What would you suggest to keep Santa from getting frostbite?
“I’d suggest appropriate clothing with multiple layers. The innermost layer should be a wicking material such as polypropylene that will draw moisture away from skin. The next layer should be of an insulating material such as fleece or wool. The outermost layer should provide protection against wind, rain and snow. Wet clothing should be changed as soon as possible. He should protect his eyes, face, hands and feet in extreme conditions. He should have adequate caloric intake and hydration should be maintained. Also, small chemical heat packs may be placed in his gloves or shoes, not placed directly on the skin to avoid burns.”
Question: Santa seems to have some pretty rosy cheeks. Is this frostbite or something else?
“Santa’s rosy cheeks could be a sign of rosacea, a common skin condition that causes redness and irritation to the face, especially the nose and cheeks. I would start by recommending that Santa come into the office to be seen for this, since the diagnosis is made by doing a good physical examination. If his rosy cheeks did indeed look consistent with rosacea, I would first recommend that he try to identify any triggers that could cause rosacea to worsen. Santa has many of these triggers since they usually include certain foods (all those cookies!), changes in temperature, alcohol, sun exposure, wind exposure and stress.
Even though Santa flies his sleigh at night, he should still consider wearing sunscreen at all times. When washing his face, he should use mild soaps and treat his skin gently. We could also offer Santa some prescriptions to help improve the rash. I would recommend starting with a topical cream. If the redness persisted and was not improving, he could benefit from an oral antibiotic or laser treatment performed by a dermatologist (skin specialist). Although there is no cure for rosacea, by avoiding triggers, using sunscreen, treating his skin gently and using prescription medications and/or laser to treat his condition, Santa should be able to greatly improve his symptoms.