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Minor Frostbite Injuries

Minor frostbite occurs as a result of freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. There will be no permanent skin damage during the first stage of the frostbite, known as frostnip. The main symptoms of the minor frostbite include cold skin, numbness, prickling pain, inflammation, and discoloration of the skin.

Pathophysiology

Frostbite is a reversible condition of the skin with paleness, thickening, and inflexibility. Moreover, there may be blister formation as well. There are several ways to classify frostbite.  :

  • Frostnip: when there is numbness of the skin.
  • Superficial frostbite: when there is an injury to only superficial skin.
  • Deep frostbite: when there is an injury to deeper tissues underlying the skin.

Frostbite injuries occur as follows:

  • Freezing of the skin and underlying tissues: When there is freezing of the superficial skin, this leads to a compromised blood supply to the skin and underlying tissues due to vasoconstriction of the blood capillaries. Overall, this lack of blood flow leads to the death of the skin cells. The temperature at which frostbite occurs varies depending on duration of exposure and underlying medical conditions.

Causes

There are different causes of frostbite injuries which are as follow:

  • Exposure to a cold environment
  • Direct contact with ice
  • Direct contact with freezing metal
  • Freezing liquid

Two specific conditions can lead to frostbite injuries:

  1. Wearing clothes that are not suitable for a cold environment.
  2. Staying at a very low temperature for an extended time.

Treatment

The management of minor frostbite injuries is essential; otherwise, it might lead to permanent damage to the skin. If frostbite is not treated immediately, it can lead to severe complications such as gangrene and neuropathy.

  • Warm your body by dipping the frostbitten part in lukewarm water.
  • Cover the frostbitten part with sterile bandages.
  • Elevate the frostbitten are of the body.
  • Antibiotics to prevent superimposed bacterial infections
  • Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen can be used to address pain
  • In case of severe frostbite injuries, surgery maybe indicated to prevent further damage.

Contact us

In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.

When to visit a doctor:
Minor frostbite injuries are very common in winter and in areas with low temperatures. You should visit your doctor if there is severe pain, numbness, and thickening of the skin. Immediate medical attention can prevent further damage and permanent skin damage.

Treatment for minor frostbite injuries is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.

For more information on minor frostbite injuries, see the following website:
https://www.afteroursinc.com/