Frostbite: Have You Been Bitten?

January 27th, 2015 | Seasonal, Skin care

With low temperatures in some areas of the country, we thought now would be a good time to discuss frostbite. This is a serious condition, and it should be properly treated once under control.

What causes frostbite?

Frostbite is caused by our body’s natural reaction to extensive exposure to the cold. If you find yourself in a prolonged cold area, your body will shift into survival mode. It will constrict circulation to the skin and outer extremities (fingers, arms, toes, legs, nose, lips, ears) in order to keep blood for critical organs. The longer you are enduring the cold, the slower circulation will be. This may result in frostbite – when your body stops all blood flow to an area.

What are the stages of frostbite?

There are two stages:

#1: Superficial. This type of frostbite is described by cellular deterioration caused by oxygen starvation and dehydration. You may experience itching, burning, numbness, irritation, etc. This type of frostbite will be sensitive to treatment, but will still be responsive.

#2: Deep. This type of frostbite occurs when deterioration extends beyond our skin to the lining of one’s blood vessels, essentially compromising blood’s transportation route. This will result in severe swelling, blood-filled blisters, blackened skin, etc. It will take more medical attention than superficial frostbite and have a longer healing process.

What are the symptoms of frostbite?

Frostbite is characterized by a person’s skin turning white, hard, or black. You may experience a lack of feeling in the area, and may show signs of hypothermia. If this is the case, it is essential to see a doctor immediately.

How is frostbite treated?

If one has frostbite, it is important to get medical attention. Until this happens, it is important to remain in a warm place. Unless necessary, a person with frostbite should never walk on frostbitten toes or feet. Learn more about steps to take, here.

Please note: The information on this page is not to be taken and/or substituted as medical advice. If you suspect frostbite, visit a medical professional immediately.

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