font size

Frostbite (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

How should frostbite and other cold weather-related injuries be treated?

The initial treatment for any cold weather-related injury involves removing yourself or others from the precipitating cold environment, if possible, to prevent further heat loss.

  • Move indoors, and remove all wet clothing and constricting clothing (such as socks, boots, and gloves), and replace with dry clothing.
  • Avoid massaging or rubbing the affected area, as this will only aggravate the injury.

It is important to note that some of these individuals may also be suffering from hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Chilblains treatment

  • Gradually rewarm the affected area, and treatment can generally be accomplished at home.
  • Some individuals may benefit from various lotions, while others may require treatment with corticosteroid creams.
  • If open sores develop, they should remain clean and be monitored for signs of infection.

Frostnip treatment

  • Frostnip will generally improve with conservative rewarming measures at home.
  • Frostnip to the hands, for example, can be treated by breathing into cupped hands or placing the hands in the armpit area.
  • Alternatively, the affected area can be submerged in warm water until normal sensation is restored.

Trench foot treatment

  • Individuals with trench foot should have their wet shoes and socks removed,and the feet should be elevated, cleaned and air dried.
  • Depending on the severity of the condition, some individuals may require antibiotics and/or surgical management of infection or wet gangrene (tissue destruction by bacterial infection, usually Clostridium spp).

Frostbite treatment

  • Frostbite requires immediate medical attention. Ideally, treatment should be instituted in a health-care facility, when possible.
  • Prior to transport to a health-care facility, if possible, loosely wrap the affected area in a dry sterile bandage or a clean blanket to prevent further trauma. Cotton may be placed between the toes or fingers, if affected, to prevent any potential damaging effects of rubbing against one another.
  • The most effective treatment measure for frostbite is rapid rewarming. This is accomplished by immersing the affected area into a circulating tub of warmed water that is between 40 to 42 C (104 to 108 F) for 20 to 40 minutes or until thawing is complete. Warm wet packs at the same temperature may be used if a tub is not available.
    • It is important NOT to rapidly rewarm and thaw the affected area if there is a risk that it may refreeze. This leads to more severe tissue damage and must be avoided.
    • During the rewarming process, the pain may be extreme and oral or intravenous analgesics may be required.
  • After rapid rewarming is complete, the affected area should be dressed and splinted. Further treatment will focus on wound care, pain control, and providing a tetanus vaccine booster shot, if needed.
  • Surgical consultation may be obtained for managing wound care, as well as for the longer-term sequelae of serious frostbite injuries that my require amputation of gangrenous tissue.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/16/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Frostbite - Experience Question: What was your experience with frostbite?
Frostbite - Symptoms and Signs Question: What were your the symptoms and signs of your frostbite?
Frostbite - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your frostbite injury?
Frostbite - Recovery Time Question: Please describe your experience with frostbite injury recovery time?
Frostbite - Experience Question: Please share your experience with frostbite.
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/frostbite/article.htm

Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations