Frostbite is a wound that appears when your skin gets exposed to extreme cold. The cold winter temperature can cause the skin and the underlying tissues to freeze. Frostbite commonly affects the extremities, toes, nose, ears, and cheeks. Frostbite can lead to permanent damage; in severe cases, can also lead to amputation.

What Causes Frostbite?

Oxygen keeps every tissue and organ healthy and functioning. When exposed to freezing temperatures, the body responds instantly. The blood vessels thin to divert blood away from your extremities and instead to your vital organs to keep you alive. When the brain senses that the person is at risk of hypothermia, it permanently constricts the blood vessels to prevent the cold from returning to the vital organs, hence the start of frostbite.

Symptoms of Frostbite

Frostbite is categorized in degrees depending on the severity. There are three stages of frostbite, including:

First degree: Frostnip

This stage is categorized by feeling pins and needles and throbbing in the affected area. The skin becomes frozen, cold, and white with prickly sensation. This stage affects people who live and work in cold environments.

Second degree: superficial frostbite

At this stage, the affected area might feel hard to touch and numb. When the affected skin appears blotchy after rewarming, blisters will also appear hours later. The person may also experience some burning, stinging and inflammation.

Third degree: Severe frostbite

At this stage, all the layers of the skin are affected. The skin turns white or bluish-grey, and the numbness is intense. The joints and muscles will also be affected. After rewarming the affected area, blisters will appear, and then the affected area turns black and hard, indicating tissue and cell damage.

How to Prevent Frostbite

Make sure you follow the following tips to prevent frostbite

  • Stay hydrated and consume healthy food
  • Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of frostbite
  • Dress suitably for the winter season
  • Use a water-resistant outer layer
  • When going at high altitude areas, opt for supplementary oxygen to improve your blood flow

Who are at a Higher Risk of Frostbite?

People who spend most of their time in cold weather are at a higher risk of frostbite. Young kids, older adults and the homeless are mainly prone. Additionally, some factors increase the odds if frostbite, including;

  • Earlier frostbite wound
  • Prescriptions like beta-blockers
  • Mental illness that might affect judgment in freezing temperatures
  • Health conditions like malnutrition, diabetes, dehydration, exhaustion and circulatory problems

Frostbite Treatment

The typical treatment method is focusing on rewarming and defrosting the affected area. When the frostbite is severe, avoid rubbing to make the area warmer, as this can increase the damage to the affected area. Remove all damp clothes and put on dry ones. The affected person should then be covered with blankets to help them keep warm.

The rewarming process should be slow. After rewarming, the affected area may appear inflamed and red when circulation recommences to the affected parts. Avoid fire, as the person might not be able to feel the heat in the affected area; this can lead to burning without realization.

Gently dry the affected part after removing it from the warm water and place an antiseptic dressing over the affected area to guard it. An antibiotic might be needed if there were blisters to treat any infection. Since rewarming can be very painful, painkillers can also be used.

Get Quality Supplies to Treat Frostbite

If you or a loved one has frostbite, visit Medical Supply Depot for high quality wound care products as well as over the counter medications. You can also call us directly at (800) 965-7496 to place your order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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