Understanding Frostbite

Frostbite is an injury produced by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. First, your skin becomes frozen and red, then numb, hear and pale. Frosbite is most common in the fingers, nose, ears, toes, cheeks and chin, Bared skin in cold, windy weather is most defenseless to frostbite. However, frostbite can occur on skin covered by gloves or other clothing.`

From sip, the first stage frostbite does not cause lasting skin injury. You can manage very mild frostbite with first-aid measures, comprising of rewarming your skin. All other frostbite needs medical a ttention because it can damage skin, tissues, muscles and bones, Possible difficulties of severe frostbite include infection and nerve damage.

Symptoms :

  • Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:
  • A first, cold skin and a prickling feeling.
  • Red, Blush,-white and white, grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases.
  • numbness

Frostbite occurs in several stages:

  • For trip – The first stage of frostbite is frostnip, with this moderate form of frostbite, your skin blanches or turns red and feels extremely cold, Continued exposure leads to prickling and numbness in the affected area, As you skin warms, you may feel pain and tingling.
  • Frostnip does not permanently damage the skin.
  • Superficial frostbite. The second stage of frostbite appears as ridden skin that turns while or pair. The skin may remain soft, but some ice crystals may form in the tissue, Your skin may begin to feel warm a sign of serious skin involvement. If you treat frostbite with rewarming at the stage the exterior of your skin may look mottled, blue or purple And you may notice stinging, tingling and swelling. A fluid-filled blister may appear 24 to 36 hours after rewarming the skin.
  • Severe (deep) frostbite. As frostbite advances, It affects all layers of the skin, incorporating the tissues that lie below. You may experience numbness, missing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort in the affected area. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blister from 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.

What is Hypothermia: What are the Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

When to see a doctor:

  • Seek medical attention for frostbite if your experience:
  • Signs and symptoms of superficial of deep frostbites – such as white or pale skin numbness, or blisters
  • Increased pain, swelling, discharge, redness, in the area that was frostbitten
  • New, unexplained symptoms
  • Fever

Get emergency medical assistance if you presume hypothermia, a condition in which your body loses heat faster than it can be produced, Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness and Loss coordination
  • Intense shivering


  • Frostbite happens when skin and underlying tissue freeze. The most common cause of frostbite is exposure to cold -weather conditions.
  • However, it can also be produced by direct contact with ice, freezing metals or frigid liquids.
  • Specific conditions that lead to frostbite include:
  • Wearing clothing that is not proper for the conditions you are in – for example, it does not protect against cold, windy or wet weather or it is too tight.
  • Staying out of the cold and wind too long, Risk progress as air temperature dips below 5 F(minus 15 C), even with low wind speeds. In wind chill of minus 16.6 F (minus 27 C), frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than n 30 minutes.
  • Touching elements such as ice, cold packs or frozen metal.

Risk Factors

  • The following factors increased the risk of frostbite:
  • Medical conditions that influence your capacities to feel or respond to cold, such as exhaustion, dehydration exhaustion, diabetes and inadequate blood flow in your limbs.
  • Alcohol or medication abuse
  • Smoking
  • Fear panic or mental illness, if it inhibits good judgments or hampers your ability to respond to cold.
  • Former frostbite or cold injury
  • Being a baby or older adult, both of whom may have a troublesome time producing and retaining body heat.
  • Being at hight altitude,w which reduced the oxygen supply to your skin.

Risk Factors

  • The following circumstances increase the risk of frostbite::
  • Medical conditions that affect your ability to feel or respond to cold, such as dehydration, exhaustion, diabetes and poor blood flow in your limbs.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Smoking
  • Previous fort site or cold injury
  • Fear panic or mental illness, if it hinders good judgment or hampers your ability to respond to cold.
  • Previous frostbite or cold injury
  • Being an infant or older adult, both of whom may have a harder time producing and retaining body heat
  • Being at high altitude, which reduced the oxygen supply to your skin.

Complications of frostbite include:

  • Increased density to cold
  • Long-term numbness in the affected area
  • Increased risk of developing frostbite again
  • Variations in the cartilage between the joints (frostbite arthritis)
  • Growth defects in children, if frostbite damages a bone’s growth plate
  • Infection
  • Tartarus
  • Gangrene – decay and death of tissue following an interruption to blood flow to the affected area, which can result in amputation.
  • The cold exposure that is severe enough to trigger Frostbite also can cause hypothermia. When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous symptoms and other organs do not work properly. Left untreated, hypothermia eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and repository system and death.

Test and Diagnosis

The diagnosis of frostbite is normally visible based on your signs and symptoms, the appearance of your skin, and recent exposure to cold.

your doctor may conduct a test, such as a bone scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, to ascertain the severity of the frostbite and to verify if bone or muscle is injured, Your doctor may also run tests if he or she speculates you have hypothermia, a condition that often occurs with frostbite

Treatments and drugs
Treatment of frostbite includes first-aid care and medical treatment, depending on the severe tilt of the frostbite. You can treat every middle forts bite (Frostnip ) with first aid measures. All other fort site requires medical attention

First-aid Care
Monitor for hypothermia. Get emergency medical assistance if you suspect hypothermia
Protect your skin from further coldness. If you are outside warm frostbitten hands by tucking them into your armpits protect your face, nose, and ear by covering them with dry, gloved hands. Don’t rub the affected area and never rub snow on frostbitten skin.
Get out of the cold. O you are indoors, remove wet clothes.
Gently rewarm frostbitten regions, Soak hands or feet in warm water – 99 to 108 F (37 to 42 C) – 15 to 30 minutes. If a thermometer is not a viable, test the water by setting an uninjured hand or elbow in it – it should feel very warm, not hot.
Do not reward frostbitten skin with direct heat, such as a stove heat lamp, fireplace or heating pad. These can cause burns.
IF there’s any chance the affect areas will freeze again don’t thaw them up so that they do not refreeze.
Take pain medicine. If you are in pain, take over the counter ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others ) to reduce pain and inflammation.
Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible. This can cause additional damage to the tissue.
Know what to expect as skin thaws. If the skin becomes red and you feel burning and tingling as it warms, normal blood flow is returning, But get emergency medical attention if the numbness or pain is still there during warming or if blisters develop.

Medical treatment

  • Rewarming of the skin, if it has not been done already, your doctor will rewarm the area utilizing a warm-water bath for 15 to 30 minutes. The skin may turn soft and resemble red or purple. You may be encouraged to move the affected area as it re-warms carefully.
  • Oral pain medicine. Since the rewarming process can be painful; your doctor will likely give you are a drug to lessen the pain.
  • Protecting the injury. Once your skin thaw, your doctor may closely wrap the area with sterile sheets, towels of dressing to protect the skin. You may require a brace or splint if the bone or muscle is involved. Also, you may need to elevate the affected area to reduce swelling.
  • Removal of damaged tissue (debarment) to heal properly, frostbitten skin needs to be free to damaged, dead of infected tissue. To better distinguish between healthy and dead tissue, your surgeon may recommend at least one to three months before removing damaged tissue.
  • Whirlpool therapy – Soaking in a whirlpool bath (hydrotherapy) can aid healing by keeping skin clean dead tissue; your doctor may wait for one to three months before removing damaged tissue. Whirlpool therapy, Soaking in a whirlpool bath (hydrotherapy) can aid healing by keeping skin clean and naturally removing dead tissue. You will be encouraged to gently move the stricken region while it is under eater.
  • Infection drugs. If your skin or blister appear infected, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics
    Clot -busting drugs. You may receive an in the intravenous injection (IV) of a drug that helps return blood flow ( thrombolytic) such as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) research of people with severe frostbite show that TPA lowers the risk of amputation. However, these drugs can cause serious bleeding and are typically used only in the most dangerous situations and within 24 hours of exposure
  • Wound therapy. If you have a complicated wound, your doctor might recommend a technique described as vacuum-assisted closure therapy to promote healing
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy comprises of breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room. Some patients showed improved symptoms after this therapy. However, the more study is needed.
    Surgery. In severe instances, surgery or amputation may be required to remove the dead or decaying tissue

Lifestyle and home remedies

  • To care for your skin after frostbite:
  • Take all medicines – antibiotics or pain medicine – as prescribed by your doctor. For milder cases of frostbite, take over- the -counter ibuprofen (Advil Motrin Ib, others) to lessen pain and inflammation
  • For surface frostbite that has been rewarmed, apply aloe vera gel or lotion to the affected are several times a day to reduce inflammation
  • Avoid further exposure to cold and the wind
  • Don’t apply direct heat or rub the area
  • Blisters act like a bandage. Allow blisters to break on their own.
  • Don’t walk on frostbitten feet
  • Don’t break blisters that may develop

  • Frostbite can be prevention. Here are tips to help your stay safe and warm.
  • Limit time you are outdoors in cold, wet or windy weather. Pay attention to the weather forecast and wind chill readings. In very cold, windy weather, expose skin can develop frostbite in a matter or minutes.
  • Dress in multiple layers or loose, warm clothing. Air trapped between the layers of clothing acts as protection and insulation from the cold. Wear windproof and waterproof exterior garments to protect against wind, rain, and snow. Choose undergarments that wick moisture way from your skin, change out of wet clothing – particularly gloves, hat, and socks, as soon as possible.
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears. Heavy woolen or windproof material make the best headwear for cold protection.
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves. Mittens afford better protection or try a thin pair of gloves liners mad of wicking material (like polyolefin) under a pair of having gloves or mittens
  • Wear socks and sock liners that fit well, wick moisture and provide insulation. You might also try hard to foot warmers, But sure the offer warmers do not make your boots too tight restricting blood flow.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite -Early signs of frostbite include red or pale skin, prickling, and numbness.
  • Plans to protect yourself, However traveling in cold weather carries energy supplies and warm clothing in case your become stranded.
  • If you will be in remote location, tell other your people your route and expected return date.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you intend to be outdoors in cold weather. Alcoholic beverage causes your body to lose heat faster.
  • Eat well well-balanced meals and stay hydrated. Eating well even before you go out in the cold will enable you to stay warm. Moreover, if you do become cold, drinking warm, sweet beverages, such as hot chocolate, will help your warm up.
  • Keep moving, Being active can get the blood flowing and help you stay warm, but don;t do it to the point of exhaustion.
Health Life Media Team