Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Frostbite is local issue damage as a consequence of impaired blood flow caused by exposure to cold, moisture, and wind.


Frostbite can occur already at temperature of +6oC and below with high humidity, and/or frost. The cold brakes blood supply to the affected tissue. Highly at risk are those parts of the body with little protection by muscles and tissue (toes, fingers, cheeks, nose, and ears), and parts of the body is tight clothing (e.g. shoes, boots).


Symptom and signs

The assessment of the Frostbite is extremely difficult and only possible after several days. If in doubt always suspect frostbite.


Superficial frostbite (frost nip):

-          initially numbness and pallor

-          later prickling pain and blue red discoloration


Deep frostbite:

-          blister formation and white to grey-blue mottled discoloration of the skin

-          impaired motility of the affected part

-          lack of feeling (when touched)

-          intense pain



Necroses of the tissue result in permanent damage of the affected parts.


First Aid

-          Loosen tight clothing

-          Place a sterile dressing over the affected part.

-          Give the casualty hot, sugared drinks, but no alcohol

-          Warm the casualty with additional clothing or blankets

-          Take the casualty to a doctor or hospital


Attempt to normalize blood flow through the frozen part by giving hot drinks and by warming up the rest of the body. The affected part must not be warmed up directly or rubbed with snow or massaged with a terry towel.


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