Winter Safety Tips: Frostbite

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frostbite_5621_20090408Brrrrr it is cold outside!!!  We published this article back in 2010 but with these frigid temperatures outside, we feel it is important to reiterate the importance of bundling up when you go outside in sub-zero temperatures.

You or someone you know may develop frostbite from being out in the cold and not even know it.  Family Medical Walk-In Clinic has provided some informative information for you to keep in mind in case you experience any of these signs or symptoms.

What is Frostbite?

According to frostbite occurs when there is damage to tissue from freezing due to the formation of ice crystals within cells, which leads to rupturing the cells and causing cell death.

There are 3 stages of Frostbite (Signs & Symptoms):

First degree: when only the surface skin is frozen.  It is most likely called frostnip

Second degree: If the freezing continues the skin may become hard, these conditions usually blister within 1-2 days and may become black and hard.  Most of these injuries heal within 3-4 weeks

Third and Fourth degree: If the freezing continues, deep frostbite will occur.  All the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves freeze.  The outside of the skin will feel hard, woody, and use is lost temporarily or in some cases, permanently.  The affected area is usually a deep red or purple color with blisters.  ***This type of severe frostbite results in loss of fingers and toes.***

How to treat Frostbite:

  • The best way to warm a frozen part is to put it in a tub of hot water of 104-108 degrees F (40-42 degrees C)
  • Do NOT thaw the frozen part if there is a chance of re-freezing.  It is best to leave it frozen until it can completely thaw out
  • Do NOT burn the injured area (for exp. warming over a fire or a heater) this should be avoided
  • Do not rub the aggregated area
  • The injured area is fragile and must be handled gently

How to prevent frostbite:

  • Dress warmly
  • Move indoors once your fingers or toes begin to feel cold
  • Always keep your hands and feet dry and your ears covered


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About the Author:

Hi everyone! My name is Jennifer and I am the face behind all of articles. I have an undergraduate degree in Broadcast/Journalism with a minor in Marketing. I completed my Master's in Health Communication in 2014. I work for a company called Family Medical Walk-In Clinic that is based out of Southwest Missouri. They are an Urgent Care facility based out of Springfield, MO. We decided to start this blog page to give our community a little something extra. I have found a passion for writing health related articles; I write articles based on what I think my readers want to know and learn more about. I don't want to overwhelm anyone with a bunch of medical terms, so I keep most of my articles simple and to the point. I want to thank those of you who are loyal to reading my weekly articles and also to my new readers. I hope you find this website informative but at the same time enjoyable!

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