How to Treat Frostbite

How to Treat FrostbiteFrostbite occurs when the skin is exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. The skin and the tissues beneath it can actually freeze, causing a serious medical emergency. Frostbite most often occurs on the feet and hands of an individual out in the elements. But it also affects the ears and the nose. Treating frostbite involves knowing what you should and should not do, as it is easily possible to make a bad situation even worse by taking the wrong action.


Difficulty: Challenging


Step 1
Identify the frostbitten areas. Look for skin that feels hard and appears to be pale. The skin will seem waxy and the area will be painful at first before gradually becoming numb. Severe frostbite will cause the skin to turn whitish, then reddish, and eventually become a combination of purple and white.
Step 2
Get yourself or the victim out of the cold. It is imperative that the frostbitten areas of the body are re-warmed as quickly as possible so as to prevent the death of any affected tissues. If there is no availability of shelter then put frostbitten fingers under your armpits or place them between your thighs to warm them up. Remember that you never want to thaw out frostbitten flesh if the potential exists for it to refreeze. This process is very detrimental to your well being since the tissue damage will be even more enhanced by a freezing, thawing, refreezing and then re-thawing scenario.
Step 3
Take off any rings, bracelets, or other forms of jewelry and any clothing that may be tight near the frostbitten part of your body. There could be some swelling associated with the re-warming of skin which makes it vital to remove anything that might be in the area.
Step 4
Take a warm bath with water temperatures between 100 and 105 degrees to re-warm the frostbitten flesh. Try to maintain the temperature of the water at those levels and keep the part of the body that has suffered frostbite in the water for an hour. At no time should you employ the use of hot water, any type of heating pad or lamp, or other method that creates a form of intense heat to thaw out frostbite. The lack of feeling in the region will not allow you to know if you are being burned.
Step 5
Resist the urge to rub the skin as well since this will cause more damage. The chance of infection and injury to the skin and tissue increases by rubbing or trying to massage frostbitten flesh.
Step 6
Utilize dry bandages for dressings after the frostbitten region has been warmed. Make sure to put bandages between fingers and toes to keep them apart if the hands and feet are the areas involved.
Step 7
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Take painkillers such as ibuprofen or aspirin to deal with any discomfort. Do not engage in smoking and/or the use of alcohol as the affects of these activities will adversely impact the healing of frostbite.



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