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Published on December 16, 2019

How to know if it's frostbite

How to know if you have frostbite

What is frostbite?

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing. This leads to a loss of feeling and colors in affected areas, which often include the nose, ears, toes and fingers. Severe cases of frostbite can lead to amputation.

Who's most at risk for frostbite?

People at risk for frostbite include those who are not properly dressed for cold temperatures and/or people who have poor blood circulation.

What are symptoms of frostbite?

If you notice that your skin is red or painful when you're outside, move indoors to protect exposed skin. The following signs may signal frostbite: white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, or skin that is numb.

How do you treat frostbite?

  • Check if the person has hypothermia. If so, seek immediate medical care.
  • If immediate medical care is not needed:
    • Get the person into a warm room as soon as possible.
    • Do not rub or massage the areas that are damaged.
    • Put the areas affected by frostbite in warm—not hot—water. If water is not available, use body heat.
    • Remember that the affected areas are numb and can burn easily.

Source: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

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