Frostnip and Frostbite

Many cases of frostnip and frostbite involve the fingers, toes, nose, and earlobes. These extremities are extremely vulnerable to cold temperatures. Appropriate clothing is the key to preventing cold-related injuries. If you wear a hat, make sure it completely covers your ears. Layers of clothing provide insulation by trapping body heat. Hats, gloves or mittens, and socks worn inside boots or heavy shoes also prevent body heat from being lost.

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Frostnip is the first stage beforeĀ frostbite. Signs include vulnerable or unprotected areas of the body feeling colder than normal. The skin tingles or feels numb.

Treatment involves slowly rewarming the affected area.

Frostbite is the physical freezing of water in the cells. You are more likely to suffer frostbite if you are exposed to the cold and wind. Cases of frostbite are extremely high with skiers, snowboarders, snowshoes, and hikers. Since most of these activities involve intense physical exercise, it’s easy to overlook the fact that one or more body parts are freezing.

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Signs of frostbite depend on the severity of the affliction. Partial-thickness frostbite occurs when the skin is pale and soft. In full-thickness frostbite, the skin is pale and hard because the water crystals in the cells have frozen.

Treatment involves slowly rewarming the affected areas. Loosen tight clothing. DO NOT RUB the afflicted area. Gradually warm by immersing the affected area in warm water. The water should NOT be hot. Provide warm drinks and wrap the victim in blankets or other warm layers. Seek medical help immediately!


We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check ourĀ Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.

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