Overview Of Frostbites
- 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:
- 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.
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
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.
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