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About Everything Wiki » Health » How to provide first aid for frostbite is useful for those who plan to swim on Epiphany

How to provide first aid for frostbite is useful for those who plan to swim on Epiphany

19 Jan 2024, 12:00, parser
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What is frostbite

Doctors call Frostbite / Mayo Clinic frostbite is an injury caused by cold. The mechanism here is simple Frostbite: How to Spot, Treat and Prevent It / WebMD . When the ambient temperature drops, our body dramatically narrows the external blood vessels. This suspends blood flow in and under the skin and helps to prevent heat leakage, which is necessary for the normal functioning of internal organs.

If it is not very cold or you are in the cold for a short time, nothing dangerous happens. Otherwise, the circulatory disorder can become deeper and lead to severe, often irreversible consequences.

In very cold weather (-15 °With and below) and windy weather, frostbite can occur in just 5 minutes.

How to recognize frostbite

Soft form

Photo: Jaim924 / Depositphotos

Even at the initial stage, the symptoms of frostbite are quite obvious:

  • The affected areas — as a rule, these are the hands, toes, nose, cheeks, ears — become cold, as if they are tingling with tiny needles.
  • The skin partially loses sensitivity, becomes numb.
  • A part of the body may turn white and then turn red.
  • Muscles and joints stiffen, precision and ease of movement disappear.

This stage is safe. The only problem is that due to the loss of skin sensitivity, you may not realize that frostbite is increasing. And here there is already a risk of serious injury.

Superficial frostbite

Photo: Sapp / Wikimedia Commons

The skin that was reddened turns pale again, becomes hard and waxy. But at the same time, you may feel a sudden warmth in your newly seemingly stiff fingers, ears, nose or cheeks… This is not a good sign. The body understands that the external tissues are in serious danger, and in a desperate attempt to save them, it expands the peripheral vessels, providing a sharp rush of warm blood.

If you return to the heat at this stage, the frostbitten skin will begin to thaw and, perhaps, its color will become uneven — this is normal. You may also find severe redness, burning or swelling, and 12-36 hours after a cold injury, peeling or the appearance of small fluid—filled bubbles.

Deep frostbite

Photo: Healthline

If you do not escape from the cold in time, the body will lose hope of warming the outer layers of the skin and re-close the peripheral vessels to conserve heat inside. And now it's really dangerous.

The skin will become more and more waxy, and the muscles and joints will continue to stiffen. In the cold, these changes are almost painless. But frostbite penetrates deeply, circulatory disorders lead to tissue death. And when returning to the warmth, the situation may become critical: pain and swelling will appear.

In a matter of hours, large painful blisters will grow on the skin, and the tissues under them will turn black and harden. This means that the part of the body affected by the cold has died off.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to restore it, except with the help of prosthetics.

How to provide first aid for initial frostbite

With a mild form of frostbite, it is enough just to return to the warmth and keep warm — for example, drink hot tea. Keep in mind: warming should be gradual. It is not necessary to put the affected fingers in hot water — a sharp temperature drop can harm the vessels.

Are you warm? You can go back to the snow and frost again.

If the heat is far away, try not to let your body know that you are freezing and something threatens your internal organs. To do this, keep maximum mobility: walk quickly, or even run to the house or actively jump on the spot, clap your hands, pat your nose, cheeks and ears.

How to provide first aid for superficial or deep frostbite

If it comes to superficial or deep frostbite, the course of action changes.

Not allowed:

  • Rub and massage the affected areas. Spasmodic vessels become brittle, and there is a high risk of damage to them, which will lead to the formation of bruises and worsen the situation. The body will react to subcutaneous bleeding by narrowing the vessels that lie deeper.
  • Sharply warm up. This, again, will have a bad effect on the spasmodic vessels. If you want to speed up warming, you can first put your hands or feet in room temperature water: after frost, it will already seem quite warm to you.
  • To drink alcohol. Alcohol dilates peripheral vessels. As a result, due to the rush of blood to the skin, you temporarily become warmer, but the body loses heat intensively — hypothermia is possible. In addition, as soon as the effect of alcohol decreases, the body will try to block heat loss by "collapsing" as many peripheral blood vessels as possible, which will worsen the symptoms of frostbite.
  • Ignore it. Lesions of the skin and even subcutaneous tissues with frostbite can be irreversible. Therefore, it is extremely important to take timely measures.


  • Return to the warmth immediately!
  • Monitor the condition and, if the swelling of the tissues lasts longer than several hours, and blisters or fluid-filled bubbles appear on the skin, consult a doctor. In any case, do not pierce the bubbles yourself: you risk getting an infection. This should be done by a specialist (of course, if necessary).
  • Contact a therapist or emergency room as soon as possible if you notice blackening of the skin.
  • Take ibuprofen or another painkiller if the unpleasant sensations during "thawing" seem too strong.
  • If a frozen person has become ill, he does not show signs of life or the darkening of tissues is noticeable, immediately call an ambulance.

How to prevent frostbite

This point may seem superfluous, but let's remind you of the safety rules.

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and try not to walk for long if the temperature drops below -15 °C. Lower values may also be dangerous if they are accompanied by increased humidity and wind.
  • Dress according to the weather. Ideally, use the principle of layering. On frosty days, wear three layers of clothing: a thin bottom layer that removes excess moisture and does not release heat (thermal underwear), a dense breathable middle one (fleece works best) and a warm upper one (an insulated jacket or down jacket with wind and moisture-proof properties).
  • Use protective cosmetics — the so-called cold creams. They create a thin oily layer on cold-prone areas of the skin, which helps to retain heat and moisture.
  • Do not drink alcohol on the street! The drunk is knee-deep not only in the sea, but also in the cold. You risk not noticing the dangerous symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Depending on the degree, the latter is fraught with various consequences: from a decrease in immunity and the risk of getting sick to problems with the cardiovascular system and other internal organs.
  • Elderly people and those who suffer from certain circulatory disorders (for example, diabetics) should be especially careful. Frostbite can also occur faster in young children and people with a low percentage of body fat.
  • Learn to recognize and respond to the symptoms of frostbite in time. This will help to keep you and the people around you healthy.
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11 Jun 2023, 00:06    1    0
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