What is frostbite and how can it be prevented?

Canada Global (Web News) Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. In the early stage of frostbite, called frostnip, there is no permanent skin damage. Symptoms include cold skin and a prickly sensation, followed by numbness and swollen or discolored skin. As frostbite worsens, the skin may become hard or waxy.

Exposed skin in cold, windy weather is most vulnerable to frostbite, but it can affect skin covered by gloves or other clothing. You may not realize you have frostbite until someone else points it out.

You can treat frostbite by rewarming. All other frostbite requires medical attention because it can cause permanent damage to the skin, muscles, bones, and other tissues.


First, cold skin and a prickly feeling

Numb,skin that looks red, white, bluish-white, gray-yellow, purple, brown, or ashy,
hard or waxy , depending on the severity of the condition and the normal color of the skin. Skin
with stiff joints and muscles
Blisters after rewarming, in severe cases
frostbite is most common on fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Because of the skin’s numbness, you may not realize you have frostbite until someone points it out. A change in the color of the affected area may be hard to see on brown or black skin.


Frostbite can be prevented. Here are tips to help you stay safe and warm.

Limit time outside in cold, wet or windy weather. Pay attention to the weather forecast and wind chill readings. In very cold, windy weather, exposed skin can develop frostbite within minutes.
Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing. Air trapped between layers of clothing acts as insulation against the cold. Wear windproof and waterproof outerwear to protect against wind, snow and rain. Choose undergarments that wick moisture away from the skin. Change wet clothing – especially gloves, hats and socks – as soon as possible.
Wear a hat or headband that completely covers the ears. Heavy fleece or windproof materials make great headwear to protect against the cold.
Wear mittens instead of gloves. Mittens provide better protection. Or try a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material (such as polypropylene) under a pair of heavy gloves or mittens.
Wear socks and sock liners that fit well, wick away moisture and provide insulation. Also consider hand and foot warmers. Make sure foot warmers are not too tight, restricting blood flow.
Watch for frostbite symptoms. Early symptoms of frostbite include skin discoloration, tingling, and numbness. If you notice signs of frostbite, seek warm shelter.
Plan to protect yourself. When traveling in cold weather, carry emergency supplies and warm clothes in case you get stranded. If you will be in a remote area, let others know your route and expected return date.
If you plan to go out in cold weather, don’t drink alcohol. Alcoholic beverages cause rapid loss of body heat.
Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated. Doing this before going out in the cold will also help you stay warm.
keep moving. Exercise can get the blood flowing and help you stay warm, but don’t do it to the point of exhaustion.

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