- frozen fingers, toes, or nose
- cold-induced injury
What are the causes and risks of the injury?
- those who work outside or exercise (such as skiers and runners) in extremely cold areas
- mountain climbers
- people who are caught in the elements without proper clothing
- people taking certain medications, such as beta-blockers, that decrease the blood flow to the skin
- people who have blocked arteries, atherosclerosis or other problems that affect blood circulation
- people with diabetes
- people with nerve problems that decrease their ability to feel injuries in certain parts of the body, a condition called neuropathy
What can be done to prevent the injury?
- stop smoking and drinking alcohol
- wear warm, multilayered, dry clothing (cotton is best, as opposed to wool) that fits loosely, as tight clothes tend to be less warming and can cut down circulation. Some materials are designed to wick moisture away from the skin; an important factor in athletes who sweat.
- avoid high altitude, windy areas
- stay warm through activity
- take necessary precautions to prevent cold exposure
How is the injury recognized?
- a person reports exposure to extreme cold and a feeling of pins and needles followed by numbness
- skin in the injured area has a change in color or thickness
What are the treatments for the injury?
- bring him or her to a warmer spot
- remove any wet or constricting clothing
- thaw the area by putting it into warm water that is less than 110 degrees F for at least 20 minutes, if possible. This thawing may cause the affected person pain or discomfort, but it is important.
- apply gauze dressings to the frostbitten area, if available, wrapping each toe or finger separately
- move the area as little as possible
- try to keep the area warm so that it will not freeze again
- seek medical attention
- rub or massage the affected area
- break any blisters that are present
- use hot water or direct heat such as hair dryers, radiators or fires to warm the frostbitten areas
What are the side effects of the treatments?
What happens after treatment for the injury?