Topic : What are the causes ,signs ,symptoms , & treatments for frostbite .
What is frostbite?
Frostbite is an injury that is caused by exposure of parts of your body to temperatures below freezing point. The cold causes freezing of your skin and underlying tissues. The fingers, toes and feet are most commonly affected but other extremities including the nose, ears, and the cheeks can also develop frostbite.
What causes frostbite ? Frostbite is the freezing of body tissues (skin, muscle, bone) in every extreme cold usually at or below 15°C . Frostbite is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperature , particularly if they are accompanied by a low wind-chill factor. In areas of the body affected by frostbite, ice crystals form and cells and blood vessels become damaged which can cause the cells to burst .Frostbite is most likely to affect body parts that are farther away from the body core & therefore have less blood flow.( feet, toes, hands, fingers, nose, and ears) . Blood clots can also form in small blood vessels which further reduces the chance of blood and oxygen getting to the affected tissues.
Signs of Frostbite :
The signs of frostbite depend on the extent and depth of tissue injury. Individuals with superficial frostbite may experience the following signs to the affected area:
A slightly painful , prickly or itchy sensation .
Red , white , pale or grayish-yellow skin .
Hard or waxy looking skin .
A cold or burning sensation/feeling .
Numbness (e.g - fingers, toes and feet )
Clumsiness ( Due to joint & muscle stiffness )
Stages of Frostbite :
There are three degrees of frostbite: frostnip, superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite. Although children, older people, and those with circulatory problems are at greater risk for frostbite, some cases tend to occur in adults between 30 and 49.
Frostnip : Frostnip is the first stage of frostbite — A mild type of frostbite in which your skin turns red and feels very cold. More exposure to cold weather leads to prickling and numbness in the affected area. As your skin warms, you might feel pain and tingling. Frostnip doesn't permanently damage the skin.
Superficial frostbite. The second stage of frostbite appears as reddened skin that turns white or very pale. The skin may remain soft, but some ice crystals may form in the tissue. Your skin may begin to feel deceptively warm — a sign of serious skin involvement. If you treat frostbite at this stage, the surface of your skin may appear mottled, blue or purple as it's warmed or thawed. With warming, you may notice stinging, burning and swelling. A fluid-filled blister may appear 24 to 36 hours after rewarming the skin.
Severe or deep frostbite. As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin, including the tissues that lie below. You may experience deceptive numbness in which you lose all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.
Frostbite treatment :
It’s very important to get to shelter as soon as possible and seek medical attention.
Call for medical help immediately.
Get the person in from the cold as quickly as possible and remove any wet or icy clothing.
Protect the frozen area of the body by warming it out with lukewarm water. If water isn't available, use a warm, woolen blanket or natural body heat. (For example, you could put frostbitten fingers into the armpits—if you could stand it.) Do not use a hair dryer, as it is too hot and could make further damage .
Let the area air dry - don't rub the affected area, as this can cause further tissue damage.
Remove any jewellery, such as rings on fingers, or other material that could tighten around the area.
If your hand or a foot is affected by frostbite, wrap it in a blanket for protection.
If possible, avoid walking on frostbitten