Preventing Frostbite

Exposure to cold temperatures for a prolonged time can result in frostbite, which causes the skin and surrounding tissues to freeze. Frostbite commonly occurs in the fingers, which may lead to loss of feeling and skin discoloration. In severe cases, frostbite can also cause permanent damage and/or loss of fingers. If you’re going to be outside in the cold weather, be sure to protect your hands.

Frostbite can occur even when the temperature is above 32 degrees fahrenheit. Wind chill and moisture contribute to frostbite conditions. Dress in layers, including warm insulated gloves and always carry a pair in your car in case you become stranded or encounter car trouble.

Recognize frostbite symptoms

• Numbness/tingling feeling
• Skin discoloration
• Hard or waxy skin
• Blisters or blackened skin

If you suspect frostbite, follow these guidelines and seek immediate medical attention:

• Go immediately to a warm place.
• Carefully remove wet gloves.
• Refrain from rubbing or scratching the affected area.
• Carefully submerse affected affected fingers in warm (not hot) water for 30 minutes until medical care is available.
• Cover the area with a warm towel or blanket to thaw.
• If available wrap each frostbitten finger loosely with sterile gauze.
• Thaw a frostbitten area only if it can be kept warm. Refreezing a frostbitten finger can result in permanent loss.
• Do not touch blisters occurring from frostbite.