Frostbite is defined as the freezing of a body part due to prolonged exposure to low temperature, wind and/or moisture.
Signs and Symptoms
The nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes are usually frostbitten first. Initial signs occur when the skin appears red, pale or white and may feel numb. If the frostbite worsens, dark blue or black areas will develop under the skin.
If frostbite is suspected, cover the area immediately. Do not rub or massage the skin. This can cause tissue damage. If possible, gently place the affected area in warm – not hot – water until it is pink, warm and no longer numb. Apply a sterile dressing to the area. Put the dressing between fingers and toes if they are affected. Medical attention is recommended for frostbite.
To prevent frostbite, always wear hats, mittens and scarves. Avoid tight-fitting boots because they make the feet more vulnerable to frostbite. Wear several thin layers of warm, dry clothing.