Don’t let the cold affect you, learn about frostbite first aid!

Winter after winter, cold temperatures are a reason to be both happy and concerned. Of course it is a pleasure to have fun in the snow and do all sorts of winter sports, but at the same time a thermometer which indicates below 0 degrees also makes us think of a common winter condition: frostbites. Frostbites are skin lesions caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wind without protective apparel such as gloves. The most affected body areas are extremities: fingers, toes, the nose, ears and cheeks. Cold is the main factor that directly causes a frostbite, but there are other circumstances which trigger it as well: internal factors – old age, preexisting biological conditions, blood flow issues – and external factors – high humidity, cold currents, alcohol and cigarette abuse while exposed to low temperatures. Even though they might look minor, frostbites can have a great negative impact if not treated in time, so here is some basic information about frostbite first aid.

In order to apply the appropriate frostbites remedy, it is first of all important to know the degrees of severity that they can have. The first degree ones are the most easy to treat, manifesting themselves through redness accompanied by a violet shade on the affected skin portion, as well as well as swelling and temporary paralysis. These symptoms appear in the first hours and are reversible, although paralysis might require more time to heal and cause cold sensibility in the future. Second degree frostbites cause swelling of the skin and also blisters. After two weeks, the swelling begins to go away and blisters heal, but the process can be painful. Third degree frostbites are more serious, causing pale skin and haemorrhagic bullae that can break and then lead to ulcerations that take up to two or three weeks to heal. Moreover, patients also experience sensitivity and movement problems. Lastly, fourth degree frostbites are the most severe: dead skin, muscles and bones, damage to blood vessels, the affected area cannot be delimited, then the phenomenon becomes obvious and after one month skin gets a violet or black shade.

Frostbite handsThe most important frostbites remedy is to take the patient from the cold environment, but avoid exposing her to very high temperatures. Warm baths, local application of warm compresses and ointments are sometimes all it takes to treat first and second degree frostbites, but when the situation is more serious, urgent medical attention is essential. In severe cases, patients might even require surgical intervention to remove the skin necrosis. Last but not least, Aloe Vera gel is very effective in treating skin lesions, doctors always recommend it as a frostbite first aid.

Do:

  • ask for professional help as soon as possible
  • prevent blocked blood flow by keeping the affected area elevated and removing jewelery and tight clothing.
  • apply warm water on the affected area
  • have warm non-alcoholic drinks

Don’t:

 

  • rub the area with snow
  • try to walk if you have frostbites at feet level
  • warm the frostbite if there is any change of it freezing again
  • have alcoholic drinks

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