Cold injuries and frostbite

When the temperature of a specific part of the body falls, this is usually called frostbite. Frostbite can be either superficial or deep. Cheeks, nose, fingers and toes are particularly exposed.

Symptoms of superficial frostbite are cold, white skin and small, sharp pains that are followed by a loss of sensation. However, the person suffering from frostbite is not always aware of the pain,since bad weather or other types of stress can lead attention away from the body’s signals.

If you suspect frostbite:

• Seek protection from wind and snow/rain, for example by going down into the forest.

• Keep moving, for example by walking in deep snow. Add another layer of clothing. Drink something warm and sweet.

• Heat the exposed area skin-against-skin, and be careful to never rub (and never, ever, rub with snow). Frozen cheeks can be warmed using a hand.Frozen hands can be warmed in your own or a friend’s armpits. Frozen feet are warmed in a friend’s armpits.

• Warm the body part until sensation, colour and mobility return, which usually takes around 20-30 minutes.

• Protect the affected area from additional frostbite injuries.

The consequences of deep frostbite can be very grave and may result in long-term damage of body tissue. If you have done everything you can in accordance with the above and still have not regained any sensation,colour or mobility after 20-30 minutes,the frostbite injury is serious.

Deep frostbite requires medical care.Extensive superficial frostbite can also increase the risk of hypothermia.