Frostbite is the most common injury resulting from exposure to cold, and it usually occurs on fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin. If caught early, it is possible to prevent permanent damage, but frostbite can lead to amputation.
Superficial frostbite affects the skin surface, while deep frostbite affects all layers. The skin will become numb, blisters may form and eventually the skin tissue dies and turns black.
If you suspect frostbite:
- Move the victim indoors and seek medical attention immediately
- Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry that could impair circulation
- Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together
- Elevate the affected area to reduce pain and swelling
- For superficial frostbite, you may also place the affected area in water that is 100 to 105 degrees until the tissue softens