Frostbite is a type of tissue damage caused by cold temperatures. Frostbite, like burns, are distinguished according to severity. Frostbite is rated first, second and third degree. The first degree of frostbite is called frostnip.

Frostbite and frostnip tend to affect where your circulatory lines end. This includes: fingers, toes and also your nose.

If you have frostnip your skin will look pale and feel numb and stiff; however, your underneath tissue will remain warm and flexible. You will feel discomfort but you will not sustain any blisters, scarring or severe, permanent damage.

Second-degree frostbite will turn your skin white or blue in color. Your skin will feel hard and cold; however, your deep tissue will remain unharmed. Once your skin warms back up, skin blisters will appear.

If you suffer from third-degree frostbite, your skin will also look white or blue in color and tissue will become hard. Deeper tissue and body parts will become injured. This includes: blood vessels, nerves, tendons and muscles.

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You should never rub your affected areas and do not apply direct heat. The best thing to do if you feel any of these symptoms coming on is to come in from the cold immediately. Remove wet clothing and wrap the frostbitten area in sterile bandages. If you think you are suffering from severe frostbite, seek medical attention immediately.

If you must venture out this winter, check the weather ahead of time and dress appropriately.


My Family Doctor, “Frostnip Vs. Frostbite: What’s the Difference?”

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