Frostbite is an injury or damage of the skin due to freezing. Areas on the body that are located comparatively far from the heart and are more exposed to harsh cold conditions are more likely to get this medical condition. Frostbite usually affects smaller parts of the body, such as toes, fingers, nose and ears. It’s possible that the affected area becomes numb and you don’t realize you have frostbite until you see it. There are symptoms that go with it. Frostbite appears in a few stages.
Symptoms of Frostbite
The first symptoms of frostbite are redness, itching and pain in the affected areas. Other symptoms are numbness and burning when the area is warmed. This is caused by the warm blood which starts moving in the area. Severe symptoms of frostbite are white and pale skin, which turns black in the last phase of the medical condition.
Stages of Frostnip/bite
The first stage of frostbite is called ‘frostnip’. It’s a softer form of the condition which appears with red areas on the skin that feel cold. In case the exposure to cold continues, the affected areas become numb and starts hurting when they get warmer. Frostnip doesn’t do serious damage to the skin.
The next stage is called ‘superficial frostbite’. In this stage the skin becomes very pale and as it warms, it may become blue or purple and start swelling. Up to 36 hours after warming the area, a blister may appear there.
Deep frostbite is the last stage which affects every layer of the skin. The area is numb, including muscles and joints that might become numb too. The skin becomes hard and black.
Frostbite is a sign that your body needs to warm up. If exposure to harsh conditions continues, this may lead to hypothermia, which means that your body’s temperature is too low. Hypothermia may lead to death.
Basically anyone is at risk to get frostbite if areas on the skin are exposed to severe weather conditions for a long time. Usually people who work outside in cold weather or spend a lot of time playing outdoor winter sports, are predisposed to end up with frostbite if they are not well-equipped for the conditions. Very young and very old people are more likely to get frostbite, since the organism then is more vulnerable. Patients who have poor blood circulation or people with heart problems are more prone to get frostbite too.
The risk increases for people who go out in the winter wearing wet clothes or not wearing clothes that are warm enough for the particular weather.
Stay warm and immerse affected areas in warm water. Make sure it’s not too hot. In case you don’t have access to warm water, warm up the area by tucking your hands into your armpits and then put them on the affected area.
Don’t rub frostbitten areas. Don’t use direct heat, such as camp-fire, to warm the affected area.
You should see a doctor in case your skin becomes too pale or numb and you lose sensation in the area. Another reason to search for medical help is strong pain, swelling or fever. Dizziness might be the case too, so go to see a doctor if you feel dizzy.
Guest Author Bio: Rose Finchley loves to write about health and healthy issues. She works for http://www.callcleaners.co.uk/cleaners-se11-kennington/ and in her free time she study for a medical university.