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Frostbite

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by Carson-DeWitt R
 

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of getting frostbite include:
 

Treatment

Rapid rewarming in a warm (100°F to 110°F [37.8°C to 43.4°C]) water bath is the treatment of choice. Slow rewarming may cause more tissue damage.
If you are stranded with frostbite and unable to get medical help:
  • Try to get to a warm location. Wrap yourself in blankets.
  • Do not put snow or hot water on the injured area.
  • Do not rub affected areas.
  • Tuck your hands into your armpits to try to rewarm them.
  • If it's available, use warm water (at about 105°F [40°C]) to rewarm your frostbitten area.
  • Avoid refreezing the affected area. This can result in more severe injury.
  • Walking on frozen feet and toes can cause damage. It may be more important to find shelter.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Avoid alcohol and sedatives.
  • Cover the injured area with a clean cloth until you can get medical help.
  • Rewarming can be intensely painful. To relieve pain take:
    • Aspirin
    • Acetaminophen
    • Ibuprofen
If you're able to get medical assistance, treatment may include moving you to a warm place and wrapping you in blankets. The injured body part may be soaked in warm (not hot) water.
Other treatments may include:
If you are diagnosed with frostbite, follow your doctor's instructions .
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Environment Canada
http://www.ec.gc.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

 

References


Frostbite. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated December 15, 2011. Accessed September 11, 2013.


Frostbite. Kids Health.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid%5Fsafe/emergencies/frostbite.html . Updated April 2011. Accessed September 11, 2013.


Winter weather: frostbite. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/frostbite.asp . Updated December 3, 2012. Accessed September 11, 2013.

 

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