Frostbite

These are all part of the coping process. However, despite of the availability of clothing able to battle out this temperature change, there are times or circumstances that put us in the position of being unable to fight the weather. One of these biggest risks is frostbite.

Frostbite is a medical condition where your skin and its tissues freeze.

This condition commonly occurs to exposed areas of the body-ears, nose, fingers, cheeks, chin, and even your feet. This means that any part of our body unable to deal with the temperature drop can be subject to this condition.

It can be difficult to deal with frostbite, and if not treated right, it could lead to frightening consequences such as nerve damage and amputation.

So a heads up: if you need to travel or stay out in the cold for long hours this winter season, you will be highly vulnerable to frostbite. There are many ways to avoid this, you can always layer your socks or use special heating devices. However, in case you suspect that you or someone you know is frostbitten, here is a list of the symptoms that you should carry around this season:

  • Your skin feels cold and includes a prickling feeling.
  • The affected areas feel numb
  • Your skin may turn red, white, a combination of bluish white or it may look grayish-yellow
  • Your skin appears hard or waxy
  • You become clumsy, and your muscles feel stiff
  • Blisters occur after you rewarm your skin (usually appears in severe cases)

These symptoms may not appear all at once but remain cautious as frostbite has three different stages:

  1. Frostnip – In the first stage, your skin feels very cold and it may appear pale or red. If unnoticed, you may also feel prickling or numbness, but do not worry since frostnip does not bring permanent damage to your skin.
  2. Superficial Frostbite – Your skin appears red and will turn white or pale. Although your skin feels soft, some ice crystals may occur. If you rewarm your skin at this stage, it will appear blue or purple. You may also feel stinging, burning, or swelling.
  3. Severe Frostbite – At this stage, you feel numb, losing all kinds of sensation (pain, cold, or any sense of discomfort). Your muscles and joints also stop functioning.

Watch for any sign of frostbite, especially if you stayed out in the cold weather for a long time. In case medical help is not immediately available, apply the following first aid steps:

  • Leave the cold and stay in a warm room right away.
  • Avoid walking unless it is absolutely necessary
  • Warm the frostbitten area in warm water. The water must not be hot, or it may burn your skin and cause further damage.
  • If warm water is not available, use your body to warm the affected area. (i.e. tuck your frostbitten fingers under your armpits)
  • Do not rub or massage the frostbitten part
  • Do not use the following when warming the affected skin: fireplace, stove, heating pad, or heat lamp. Doing so might cause more damage to the skin.