How To Treat Frostbite

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Overview Of Frostbites

Frostbite occurs when the skin is damaged due to extreme cold
Frostbite occurs when the skin is damaged due to extreme cold
  • Frostbite occurs when the skin is damaged due to extreme cold.
  • At -15C or below, the veins and blood vessels tighten to sustain body heat.
  • When the tissues continue to constrict, tissue damage takes place.
  • Frostbite generally damages tissues which are far from the heart.
  • It also takes place in tissues that are most open to the cold.
  • The tissues that are generally affected by frostbite are:
    a. Fingers 
    b. Toes
    c. Nose
    d. Ears
  • Immediate medical care or first aid must be administered to avoid permanent injury to the tissues.

Risk Factors Related To Frostbite

  • Use of beta-blockers.
  • Peripheral neuropathy.
  • Diabetes.

Symptoms Of Frostbite

  • The skin will start to change color.
  • The skin will start to become loose.
  • The casualty will experience a burning or tingling feeling.
  • The casualty will start to become partially or completely numb.

In serious cases,

  • The frostbite might turn into gangrene which will result in amputation.

Treatment Of Frostbites

Get medical assistance as quick as possible. In the meantime

  • Cover the injured region using fresh material or clothing.


If no medical assistance is available:

  • Transfer the casualty to a place that is warm.
  • Hypothermia is dangerous and must be treated first. Insulate the casualty very well.
  • Ensure that the area where the frostbite occurred is in warm water (not hot water).
  • This must be completed until the burning or tingling sensation is gone.

Steps to Avoid With Frostbites

  • Do not scrub or rub the affected region.
  • Don’t apply treatment if a second round of cold exposure is expected.
  • If treatment is applied directly after cold exposure this can cause severe damage to the tissues.

Prevention Of Frostbites

  • Avoid
    a. Weather that is extremely cold
    b. Clothing that is wet
    c. A wind that is extremely cold
  • Wear more than one layer of clothing during cold weather.
  • Put on winter accessories such as:
    a. Mittens; avoid gloves as they not as good in preserving warmth
    b. Put on two pairs of socks during extremely cold weather
    c. Cover your ears well by wearing a scarf or hat
  • Make sure you get sufficient food and rest.
  • Stay away from alcohol directly before exposure to cold.

Related Video On Frostbites

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