The human body - especially the extremities like the fingers, toes and nose – gets easily affected by cold temperatures. Extreme cold may lead to stopping of blood circulation which in turn can result in frostbite. First aid for frostbite basically prevents further damage to skin and tissues.
When frostbite results in only small patches of skin getting affected, it is called a superficial frostbite. Generally areas exposed to the cold may turn pale and the victim may feel numbness and experience pain.
Though superficial frostbite by itself is not harmful, it could lead to deep frostbite if not treated immediately.
A person is said to be suffering from deep frostbite when the affected area runs much deeper than just the surface tissues. If not attended to immediately, this could result even in loss of a body part.
The skin should be prevented from further exposure to the cold. For instance, the face can be covered and hands can be tucked into the armpits.
The affected part should not be exposed to direct heat. If hands or feet are frostbitten, they can be immersed in warm water. Heat from fire should not be used for warming as this could lead to burns.
Care should be taken that skin which has been warmed does not get frozen again. If another exposure to cold is inevitable, thawing should be avoided.
Circulation may soon return after providing first aid for frostbite. But if pain persists, immediate medical help should be sought for, to avoid disastrous consequences like amputation.
While one should be aware of how to provide first aid for frostbite, it is also important to know what can be done to prevent frost bite in the first place.
By providing prompt first aid for frostbite, one can prevent the problem from turning serious.