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First Aid Overview

First Aid for Frostbite

In mild cases, frostbite can be treated by simply warming the infected area. Serious cases of frostbite, however, require immediate first aid.

Causes: Frostbite is freezing of skin and possibly underlying tissues. It is caused by exposure to cold, wet conditions and most often affects the face, ears, hands, and feet.

Symptoms: White or yellowish-gray areas of skin, burning or itching sensations, reddened and swollen skin, skin hard to the touch, glossy appearance to the skin, blisters, pain, numbness.

  1. Seek medical attention immediately. Call for EMS, or transport victim to emergency room.

    Until medical assistance is available:

  2. DO NOT rub or massage affected area. DO NOT rewarm with hot water or high heat from fireplace or stove. DO NOT allow victim to walk on or use frostbitten digits. DO NOT break blisters. DO NOT allow frostbitten area to touch exposed skin.

  3. Warm affected areas by placing them against victim's body or your body, using gloves, clothing, or blankets to keep frostbitten area from directly touching any exposed skin.

  4. Get victim indoors, remove wet clothes, and take off any clothes or jewelry on affected area.

  5. Check for hypothermia (see hypothermia).

  6. Immerse frostbitten area in lukewarm (102-106 degreesF), not hot, water. If lukewarm water is not available, cover area with warm towels or blankets. Take area out of water, or remove coverings, once skin becomes flushed.

  7. Place clean cloth between affected toes or fingers if possible, but do not force digits apart if skin sticks together.

    frostbite first aid
    Keep frostbitten skin seperated.

  8. Give victim warm, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverages, and make sure victim is kept warm.

To learn more about first aid and emergency care, see:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.