Signs And Symptoms
- An area of skin that is hard, white, and cold immediately after prolonged exposure to low temperatures
- After thawing, the affected site becomes red and painful
- Decreased sensitivity at the affected site
- Throbbing pain at the affected site
- Localized swelling or blistering
Frostbite occurs when deep tissue cells freeze and die. In severe cases of frostbite, the underlying blood vessels, muscles, and nerves are damaged. While frostbite can affect any part of the body that is exposed to extremely cold temperatures for a sustained period of time, the nose, ears, feet, and hands are the most commonly affected areas.
Frostbite is typically caused by exposure to temperatures of OaF or below for two hours or more, though these factors are variable. The process can be accelerated by a very low wind chill factor, dampness, or returning to the cold environment immediately after thawing from a previous period of exposure.
Although frostbite can affect anyone, people with circulatory problems are at increased risk. Frostbite ultimately destroys tissue by literally freezing the nutrient-rich blood flow to an area of the body. Since people with circulatory problem have sluggish blood flow to begin with, the destruction of tissue by frostbite is accelerated.
Conventional Medical ireatment
If You develop frostbite, the first thing to do is
warm the affected tissue. Return to a heated environment, and raise the temperature of the affected area slowly. Do not use heating pads or other direct applications of heat-frostbitten tissue is fragile and burns easily. As soon as you are able, seek medical assistance. A nurse, paramedic, or physician can determine if you have frostbite by conducting a physical examination of the area.
Total recovery from frostbite is not quick-it often takes 6 to 12 months for the site to completely recuperate. During the early stages of recovery, your doctor may place you on antibiotics to ward off the threat of infection. Until you are completely recovered, you should not smoke tobacco products; cigarettes, pipes, and cigars constrict blood circulation, preventing the necessary amount of nutrient-rich blood from reaching the frostbitten site. Unfortunately, you may feel the effects of the episode for the rest of your life: frostbite sometimes causes the affected area to be permanently sensitive to cold temperatures.
In extremely severe cases of frostbite, where large areas of tissue are destroyed, amputation is sometimes necessary. It can take up to three weeks after the initial exposure to cold to verify that the tissue will not recover. In such cases, gangrene may set in and threaten surrounding healthy tissue, making amputation necessary.