First aid for frostbite

Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

Under the influence of cold, small vessels, capillaries narrow, and blood flow through their stops. This leads to tissue damage, and in severe frostbite, to their necrosis up to bones and joints. Unfortunately, in the most severe situations, frostbite can result in the amputation of fingers or limbs. Therefore, it is very important to quickly and correctly provide first aid for frostbite of different stages.

The protruding parts of the body are most susceptible to frostbite – the nose, ears, cheeks, the entire face, fingers, toes, and entire limbs.

It can occur not only during very severe frosts -10 – 20 ° C but also at zero temperature if the air humidity is increased and a cold, piercing wind blows.

The first signs include tingling, skin numbness, decreased sensitivity, first paleness, and then redness of the skin, itching.
There are 4 degrees of frostbite.

1 degree: the mildest degree, it is familiar to everyone, this is when, with slight hypothermia of the fingers or toes, there is a slight burning sensation, tingling, numbness and pale skin, itching. With timely first aid, if warmed up in warm water or in a warm room, the defeat of the limbs disappears without a trace.

2 degree: develops with longer exposure to frost. It is characterized by the same symptoms, but fluid-filled blisters and edema are added to them. With timely first aid, healing can take several weeks but leaves no traces.

3 degree: with an even longer stay in the cold, deep frostbite of the tissues occurs with the formation of bubbles already with bloody contents. Healing after first aid can last about a month, and scars remain at the site of the blisters.

4 degree: with a very long stay in the frost, not only tissues, muscles, but also bones and joints are exposed to frostbite. The limb acquires a dark bluish color, and when it is warmed, edema develops. Unfortunately, at this stage, some of the tissues die off and it is no longer possible to restore them. Affected and dead tissues are subject to amputation.

What can you do with frostbite?

First-aid measures include the following:

  • it is necessary to move the victim to a warm room;
  • carefully remove outerwear and shoes from the affected area;
  • put the patient to bed and cover with a warm blanket;
  • give a warm drink, hot tea, milk, fruit drink;
  • apply a sterile bandage to the affected areas;
  • if the sensitivity of the affected areas has not recovered, you should immediately call a doctor.

What not to do in case of frostbite?

  • Do not rub the affected areas, rub in ointments, oils, alcohol. With frostbite of II-IV degrees, this can contribute to the development of infection;
  • it is contraindicated to consume alcoholic beverages;
  • do not apply hot objects to the affected areas, for example, a very hot heating pad, heat near a battery, stove, heater. With severe frostbite, the skin is not sensitive and such heating can cause burns.
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