Seasonal tips from The Mirror in case the foretold cold snap hits us.
Frostbite occurs after exposure to extreme cold, when the blood flow to the exposed area stops and the affected area of skin becomes frozen.
Is it serious?
Yes, and it should be treated as an emergency, but there’s a first-aid routine you should carry out immediately. If treated quickly, frostbite has no lasting effect, but severe cases can lead to gangrene and eventually amputation.
What should I do first?
Get the person out of the cold immediately and ask someone else to call for medical help.
Don’t apply direct heat or rub the affected part. If toes or fingers are frostbitten, immerse them in warm water and add more to keep the temperature constant. If you have no warm water, put the person’s hands or feet under your armpits, or hold their face against your body.
Wrap the person in blankets and give them hot drinks. Don’t let them walk on a frostbitten foot.
When the affected part becomes pink, stop warming it and wrap in anything that will keep in the heat. Go to the nearest casualty department.
While you’re travelling to the hospital raise their feet or put their hands across their chest to keep the blood flowing.
How to recognise Frostbite from the BootsWebMD:
The signs and symptoms of frostbite vary depending on the extent of injury caused by the cold. Frostbite is usually described as either superficial or deep:
During the early stages of frostbite, you will have pins and needles, throbbing, or aching in the affected area. The skin will become cold, numb and white, and you may feel a tingling sensation. This stage of frostbite is also known as frostnip and is common in people who live or work in cold climates. The extremities, such as the fingers, face (nose and ears), and toes, are most commonly affected.
After these early signs, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures will cause more tissue damage and the affected area will feel hard and frozen. When you are out of the cold and the tissue is thawed out, the skin will turn red and blister, which can be painful. There may also be swelling and itching.
This is known as superficial frostbite because it affects the top layers of skin and tissue. The skin underneath the blisters is usually still intact but medical treatment is needed to make sure no lasting damage occurs.
When exposure to the cold continues, frostbite becomes increasingly severe. The skin becomes white, blue or blotchy and the tissue underneath feels hard and cold to touch. There may be further damage to tendons, muscles, nerves and bones beneath the skin.
Deep frostbite requires urgent medical attention.
As the skin thaws, blood filled blisters form that turn into thick black scabs. At this stage it is likely that some tissue has died, this is known as gangrene and may have to be amputated (cut off) to prevent infection.
Some people experience long-term symptoms after recovering from frostbite, this can include loss of feeling in the affected area and an increased sensitivity to the cold.