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Frostbite: General Information

Image of man with frost on face

What is Frostbite?

  • Frostbite can occur when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit / -6 Celsius, causing body tissue to begin freezing. The moisture in the tissue freezes and crystallizes.
  • Frostbite usually affects outer limbs and body parts such as the face, nose, ears, fingers, and toes first.
  • Signs of frostbite include skin that starts out pink and changes to blotchy or waxy white or to a grayish-yellow tone. This may happen over time, as frostbite develops.
  • Pain and cold may be felt initially, but the area will quickly become numb and have no feeling.
  • Important: Never warm the frostbitten area and then later allow it to refreeze. Active warming then refreezing is worse than doing nothing. If continued warming is not possible, take the casualty to the closest hospital before beginning warming.

Content excerpted from the Urgent First Aid Guide used by permission Copyright 2013 UrgentFirstAid.com
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