Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Frostbite and Frostnip Overview

What is frostbite and frostnip?
A person with frostnip has skin that has become pale and numb after exposure to freezing temperatures. If exposure continues, it may progress to frostbite. A person with frostbite has tissue damage due to exposure to freezing temperatures.

What are the symptoms of frostbite and frostnip?
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.

How does the doctor treat frostbite and frostnip?
Frostnip may be treated safely at home. The affected part may be slowly warmed by breathing onto the injured site, such as breathing into cupped hands. A hand with frostnip can also be warmed under the armpit. Any person with frostbite injury should be immediately transported to a medical facility. Trying to warm frostbitten skin in the field can cause more harm than good. Re-freezing of thawed frostbitten tissue can increase the severity of the original injury.

Continue to Frostbite and Frostnip Risk Factors

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Frostbite and Frostnip References
  1. Hassi J, Makinen TM. Frostbite: occurrence, risk factors and consequences. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2000 Apr;59(2):92-8. [10998825]
  2. Su CW, Lohman R, Gottlieb LJ. Frostbite of the upper extremity. Hand Clin. 2000 May;16(2):235-47. [10791170]
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