Frostbite occurs as a result of the action of low ambient temperatures on the tissues of the body. Frostbite can also be obtained in damp weather with high humidity, with a long stay in the cold in a stationary position, in wet clothes and tight shoes. At temperatures below 0°C, the blood vessels closest to the skin constrict in order to maintain the temperature inside the body. When the temperature is very low, or if you stay in the cold for a long time, the body’s defense reaction can reduce blood flow to some parts of the body to a dangerously low level.

Frostbite occurs mainly in the nose, ears, fingertips and toes, which can be lost in severe frostbite.

Freezing is divided into 4 degrees:

  • With the first degree of frostbite, the skin becomes cold, turns pale, susceptibility is lost, the affected areas redden and swell after warming, there is a sharp pain and itching.
  • At the II degree, the skin becomes sharply pale, after warming it becomes reddish-blue, pain appears, as well as blisters and edema containing blood.
  • III degree is characterized by partial necrosis of the skin and soft tissues, the skin darkens, becomes almost black.
  • At IV degree, along with necrosis of the skin and soft tissues, bone necrosis begins.

First aid for frostbite

With frostbite, the whole body is very often supercooled. Therefore, first aid consists in the rapid resumption of blood circulation and warming the victim.

If frostbite is minor, you can warm the fingers by hiding them under the armpits; if the nose is frostbitten, the heat of the hand will be enough to warm it. Do not let the warmed area of ​​the skin freeze again. The more often the tissue freezes and warms up, the more severe the damage can become. Light frostbite goes away on its own in 1-2 hours. If after rubbing the immobility does not go away, consult a doctor.

To warm the victim, you need to bring it into a warm room, free from shoes and clothes. It is not necessary to place the sick person near a heat source (batteries, heater, fireplace, fire, hot stove) or use a hair dryer: the victim does not feel frostbitten tissue and can easily get burned. A warm blanket, hot tea or milk will suffice. If there are no blisters or swelling on the frostbitten area, wipe it with vodka or alcohol and with clean hands massage the frostbitten part of the body, moving towards the heart. When bubbles appear, massage should not be done, otherwise you can infect the infection and cause unnecessary pain. Very often, before the appearance of sensitivity, the skin will need to be rubbed for a long time until it becomes red, soft and warm. Massage should be done very carefully so as not to damage the vessels.

If the cheeks or nose are frostbitten, warming can be done by rubbing them in the cold, and then taking the victim to the room. It is not recommended to rub frostbitten areas with snow. Snow contributes to even greater cooling, and sharp ice can injure the skin.

Warming can also be carried out in warm water at room temperature, carefully massaging the skin. Water does not have to be either very warm or very cold. The water temperature should be increased gradually, starting from room temperature 18-20°C, and bring it to a body temperature of 37°C. At the same time, the patient is given a hot drink. The process of warming may be accompanied by acute burning pain, the appearance of a tumor, a change in color. Warming is continued until the skin becomes soft and sensitive.

After a warm bath, you will need to gently wipe the sick, frostbitten area, if there are no blisters, wipe with alcohol and apply a sterile bandage and wrap it warmly. It is not recommended to use ointments, as they can complicate further examination and treatment by a doctor. After providing first aid, the sick person will need to be quickly taken to the hospital!


Protecting yourself from frostbite is very simple, the main thing is to remember a few important rules. If you know you will be out in the cold for a long time, bring hot food and drinks with you. If the air humidity is high, avoid prolonged stay in cold damp rooms. You should not stay in the cold tired, sweaty or in a state of intoxication. Alcohol reduces the process of heat generation in the body, although a person feels warm. Dress warmly and comfortably, shoes do not have to be wet, tight, otherwise it may interfere with blood circulation. Take mittens with you, not gloves – it is the fingers that are one of the most vulnerable places for frostbite. From time to time, check the condition of the exposed parts of the face and head in order to prevent frostbite in a timely manner and return to the premises.

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