Most people associate dangerous and damaging burns with heat and fire, but injuries related to cold burns, or frostbite, can be equally severe and damaging. Similar to a heat or fire burn, frostbite occurs when skin or tissue is damaged (in the case of cold injuries, due to contact with extreme cold). When parts of the body are exposed to low temperatures for long periods, blood vessels constrict to help restrict blood flow and protect an individual’s core temperature. This combination of cold temperature and restricted blood flow can freeze the tissue, causing permanent damage.
Most often, this freezing occurs on the outermost extremities of the body, such as on fingers and toes. Following frost, nerve damage can occur due to loss of oxygen, and a person can lose all feeling/sensation in the frostbitten areas. If such a condition occurs, then you must run down to the nearest 24 hour emergency care. One of the most common secondary injuries to frostbite is an infection of affected areas, as people can become cut without feeling it, and fails to keep the area adequately disinfected.
The most common symptoms to spot frostbite are:
- A burning or tingling sensation.
- Complete or partial numbness.
- Intense burning pain.
- Discoloration of the affected area of the skin.
It is seen in some cases that gangrene occurs if blood vessels become severely damaged, and in a few other situations, amputation is obligatory.
How to treat Mild frostbite
- Drink warm liquids
You should drink hot beverages that will help you keep warm from inside, including coffee, tea, or soup. Make sure to avoid alcohol until to get better.
- Rewarm the affected area
Rewarming the frostbitten area will provide you relief from the pain. To do so, you can soak the affected area in warm water (37 to 40C). You can check the temperature of the water using a thermometer; if it isn’t available, you can test it by an uninjured hand. If it feels bearable, not very hot, then rewarm the affected area in it for 30 minutes.
- Stay away from the cold
If you get frostbite, then try to stay warm and away from cold. Keep yourself warm inside as well as outside the home. Don’t let the affected area get in contact with cold water and try not to break the blisters caused by frostbite.
- Check for hypothermia
If you suspect hypothermia, get medical help as soon as possible. Symptoms and signs of developing hypothermia include drowsiness, muscle weakness, intense shivering, nausea, and dizziness.
Ways to prevent Frostbite
One of the easiest and effective ways to avoid frostbite is not to get exposed to extremely low temperatures. If you have to go outside and get exposed to cold, then make sure to dress up in layers and protect yourself from getting cold. It would be best if you also put protective lotions and creams to protect your skin from frostbite.
The Bottom Line
As with most medical conditions, prevention is the most effective way of fighting Frostbite. Keep yourself warm during the cold to stay away from possible complications from Frostbite that includes nerve damage and infection. If you or your loved ones suspect symptoms of Frostbite, get urgent care in Houston, TX, before the condition gets worse.