FROSTBITE Signs Symptoms and Treatmentdoctkhalil
Common Sites for Frostbite
Causes of Frostbite
1) Exposure to Cold Weather
2) Direct and prolonged contact with
- a) ice
- b) Freezing liquids
- c) frozen metal substances
- d) cold packs
Specific Risk Factors
- Certain medical conditions like SLE, scleroderma and diabetes which leads to the poor blood supply to the skin and affect your nervous system in a way that you either can’t feel or respond to heat and cold.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Smoking and drug abuse.
- Extremes of age, that is infants and very old people, who can’t produce or retain enough body heat.
- Living at high altitude where oxygen supply is very low to the skin.
- Mental illnesses which impair your ability to respond to extremes of temperature, pain etc.
Stages of Frost Bite
Complications arising due to Frostbite
- Exposure to extreme cold which is enough to cause frostbite may also cause hypothermia, a condition in which body temperature falls to a degree at which the circulatory and nervous system cannot work normally and if left untreated can lead to heart failure and respiratory depression causing ultimate death.
- Cold Sensitivity.
- Feeling extreme cold in mild to moderate cold windy weather conditions can occur in a person with the previous history of frostbite as he or she develops increased sensitivity towards cold as a feedback mechanism of the body.
- Increased risk of developing frostbite again in areas which were previously mildly damaged by the cold exposure.
- Long-term numbness due to nerve damage in the affected area.
- Tetanus and other infections.
- Damage to growth plate may lead to permanent growth defects in children.
How to Prevent Frostbite?
- When it’s too cold, don’t go outside or limit your time outdoors when it’s absolutely necessary to go out as exposed areas of skin can develop frostbite under such conditions in a matter of minutes.
- Change out of waste clothes especially socks and gloves as soon as possible as your extremities are more prone to develop frostbite.
- Wear woolen head covers that completely cover your head and ears.
- Use mittens instead of gloves if possible as they provide better protection against cold.
- Take care of your hand and feet. Wear hand/foot warmers below gloves and socks for extra warmth.
- Watch weather forecast before you leave for a long journey in cold.
- Plan your journey beforehand. Keep warm clothes and emergency supplies with you.
- Inform someone close about your location, departure and arrival timings.
- Beware of the different signs of frostbite especially if you are traveling alone as sometimes numbness is so severe that the person is unaware of the actual serious damage.
- Look for skin color changes i.e pale/white turning purple or black, stinging burning feeling or swelling of any part should never be ignored.
- Consume a well-balanced meal before leaving the house, hotel or shelter.
- Try to stock high caloric hot food items with you for your time outdoors like hot chocolate.
- Keep yourself well hydrated. Avoid consumption of alcohol like substances that make your body lose heat more quickly.
Immediately consult a doctor if you observe any of the following signs.
- Pain, numbness, prickling or stinging sensation in an area with increasing intensity and color changes like skin becoming pale white or purplish blue-black.
- Severe fever with rigors and chills
- Blister formation
- New unexplained symptoms like sudden loss of the function of a joint etc
- Be constantly on the move as exercise keeps you warm by increasing blood flow. However, don’t exhaust yourself as that could harm you if you are stranded in such extreme cold conditions for long periods of time.
Frost Bite First Aid Measures
- Move inside take shelter as soon as possible
- Cover that area with warm clothes, hot pads etc.
- Try to rewarm the affected area as soon as possible because as the time passes the damage becomes permanent.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible and never underestimate the damage.
- Especially look for color changes in your skin. If it’s turning purplish-black most probably it’s a gangrenous patch already.
- Drink/eat something sweet and hot if possible to keep yourself warm.
- Don’t go outside again in the cold unless the initial signs of frostbite are completely gone.