Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Cold Exposure Overview

Another name for Cold Exposure is Cold Injury.

What is a cold injury?
A person with a cold injury has an abnormally low temperature or damage to the body, caused by exposure to a cold environment. Cold injuries include frostbite, frostnip, and hypothermia.

What are the symptoms of a cold injury?
Symptoms of a cold injury depend on the underlying injury. Symptoms range from symptoms of frostnip and frostbite to symptoms of hypothermia. Symptoms of frostnip include pale skin, skin numbness, burning skin pain, and cool skin surface. Symptoms of frostbite include worsening skin pain and numbness, skin redness, and clear blisters. Early symptoms of hypothermia may include fatigue, irritability, poor judgment, dizziness, numbness, pale skin, and shivering.

How does the doctor treat a cold injury?
Treatment for a cold injury depends on the underlying injury. Treatments range from treating frostbite and frostnip to treating hypothermia.

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cold Exposure References
  1. Hassi J, Makinen TM. Frostbite: occurrence, risk factors and consequences. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2000 Apr;59(2):92-8. [10998825]
  2. Jurkovich GJ. Environmental cold-induced injury. Surg Clin North Am. 2007 Feb;87(1):247-67, viii. [17127131]
  3. Su CW, Lohman R, Gottlieb LJ. Frostbite of the upper extremity. Hand Clin. 2000 May;16(2):235-47. [10791170]
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