Signs of Frostbite and How to Treat It

Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening.

Nobody wants any part of that, so let’s examine how parents can help protect their children – and themselves, for that matter.

How to Prevent Frostbite

  1. Dress in layers and avoid staying in the cold too long.
  2. Wear a hat and gloves – mittens are even better for keeping your hands warm.
  3. Drink plenty of warm fluids before going outdoors but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  4. Stay active to maintain body heat. Whether it’s building a snow fort, ice skating, shoveling snow, or walking a pet, make the most of your time outdoors by not standing still.
  5. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold.
  6. Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear. Signals of frostbite include lack of feeling in the affected area; skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue).

What to do if You Think Your Child Has Frostbite

  • Bring your child indoors immediately.
  • Do not try to thaw frostbite unless you’re in a warm place (warming and then re-exposing frozen skin can cause permanent damage).
  • Remove wet clothing.
  • Don’t rub frostbitten areas — pat them gently.
  • Don’t use dry heat — such as a fireplace, oven, or heating pad — to thaw frostbite.
  • Don’t break any blisters.
  • Warm the frostbitten parts in warm (not hot) water for about 30 minutes.
  • Place clean cotton balls between frostbitten fingers and toes after they’ve been warmed.
  • Loosely wrap warmed areas with clean bandages to prevent refreezing.
  • Give your child a safe and age appropriate pain killer.

Does Your Child Need Medical Care? 

Yes, if an area of skin is turning white and hard!

If the probability seems strong of frostbite, it’s always a good idea to let a trained medical professional examine your child after you’ve administered the basics of first aid as described above. MedCare Express, in fact, is the only walk-in medical center in Great Hartford that’s open 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week. Come see us anytime – we’re here to help.