Frostbite Signs That You Must Never Ignore

In the first winter month people hardly think about the possibility of the cold affecting their health. But as the frosty season reaches its peak, it’s important to know how to identify the symptoms of frostbite and how to act in case you noticed them to avoid serious consequences. While the severity of skin condition can very considerably, here are some common signs of frostbite that you should always be on the watch for.


– Sore, red and cold skin

The first areas where frostbite appears are usually toes, fingers, nose, ears, chin and cheeks, so pay close attention to these places while trying to identify frostbite symptoms. In case some of the above areas get red and the skin feels very cold it’s a sure sign of frostnip which is a mild cold injury that doesn’t lead to permanent skin damage but requires immediate first-aid treatment such as warming the affected areas.

– Itchy, burning or prickly feeling

In case you didn’t take care of frostnip, there’s a chance that real frostbite will start kicking in. After becoming red, the affected skin may get numb and start burning, itching, or stinging. Here lies one of the main problems of this stage of frostbite: due to numbness people tend not to notices that frostnip turned into frostbite. In order to take control of the situation, check the texture and color of the skin.

– Hardened skin

The next, intermediate, stage of frostbite, which is also known as superficial frostbite, can be identified by waxy, shiny skin that starts to become hard to touch which might indicate tissue damage. Further exposure to the cold will cause the advanced stage of frostbite and the affected tissues might die. If you noticed these signs, you should immediately seek medical care to make sure the damage doesn’t become permanent and simply warming up will not help. In fact, if you do it during this stage, you’ll get blisters that might contain water or even blood.

Treatment and prevention

– Keep warm

The first thing you should do after noticing the early signs of frostbite, is immediately get a warm refuge. Ask someone to prepare some warm water for you and make sure they test it first – if your skin is already numb, you won’t be able to judge whether the water is not too hot. Use the water to soak the affected area or, otherwise, cover it with a warm cloth for at least half an hour. During the process you are likely to feel tingling and notice the skin becoming red. Don’t worry, it’s a sign that the blood flow in the area is being restored.

– Dress up

In order to keep frostbite at bay, you should focus on your clothes which should be warm and loose. It’s best if you wear three layers: the first to keep you dry, the second to insulate and the third to protect you from the wind and water. If you get a little hot, slightly unzip your coat to cool down. Your winter outfit should include a warm woollen hat or earmuffs for the head and ears, waterproof shoes with thick socks for the feet and a great pair of warm gloves for the hands.

– Drink lots of water

Staying hydrated is very important for frostbite prevention as well. Make drinking a glass of water before leaving the house a habit and avoid drinking alcohol which dehydrates your body and makes it lose heat way quicker. It’s also recommended to fill up on some food before going out on a cold day since it also helps your body stay warm.

– Move

While outside for a while, try to move as much as possible, do some jumping jacks and squats, move your arms and legs – this will help to keep your blood flowing and stay warm as a result. Don’t overdo it though, you will need the energy to resist the cold.

We hope you never have to experience frostbite, but now that you know the signs of it, we’re sure you’re much less likely to be affected by it. Stay safe and warm!

Have you ever experienced frostbite? Do you have any other advice? Share with us.

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