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Frostbite is freezing of the skin and tissues below the skin.
It occurs when a person is exposed to freezing temperatures [32°F (0°C)] or lower for too long.
How severe the
frostbite is depends on how long the person was exposed to cold, the
temperature, the windchill, and the humidity. Frostbite is most likely to occur
on the feet, hands, ears, nose, and face. Men may have frostbite of the
genitals if they do not dress properly.
Doctors rate frostbite by
degree of severity:
freezes part of the outer layer of skin. Symptoms include:
Second-degree frostbite is
freezing of all layers of the skin. Symptoms include:
Third-degree frostbite is
freezing of deep layers of skin and tissues below the skin. Symptoms
Fourth-degree frostbite is
freezing of muscles, tendons, and bones. Symptoms include:
Pain may be severe as the frostbitten skin rewarms.
Swelling and blisters are common after rewarming.
treatment for frostbite includes relieving pain and quickly rewarming the
frostbitten area. This can help prevent problems such as infection, dead
tissue, or amputation of the frozen part.
Current as of:
March 20, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
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