How to Treat Frost Bite

Frostbite happens when the skin and the extremities such as the hands, feet, cheeks, ears, and nose are exposed to very cold temperatures. It can happen very quickly if one is exposed to extreme cold. It can even occur in above-freezing conditions if there is strong wind or if you are wet or at a high altitude. What should you do if you or a companion suffers from frostbite?

Steps in treating frost bite

Step #1: Take the victim indoors right away

Check for numbness or pain in the toes, fingers, cheeks, ears, and nose.

frost bite

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Step #2: Very gently move the affected part in order to increase blood flow

Gentle movements can never be overemphasized as frozen tissue is easily damaged. Avoid rubbing or applying massage on the frozen area.

Step 3: Apply warmth on the white frozen area

Use body warmth. For example, place frostbitten fingers to one’s chest or underarms.

Step #4: Soak the frozen body part or area in lukewarm water for not more than 30 minutes

You can also apply warm cloth to parts that cannot be soaked such as the ears, nose, and cheeks. However, do not thaw the frostbitten body part if there is a danger of it being frozen again. Refreezing will worsen tissue damage.

Step #5: Apply dry sterile dressings on the frostbitten areas

Put them in between frostbitten toes or fingers.

Tips to avoid frost bite

As always, prevention is better than treatment. Avoid exposure to extremely cold temperatures. During winter season, wear suitable clothing such as mittens, wool socks, scarves, and layered clothes that are water-resistant and wind-proof. Supervise children playing outdoors and tell them to come inside every so often to warm up. When it is colder than 40, do not allow children to go out at all, more so if cold weather or frostbite warnings are in effect. If you expect to be outdoors for a long period of time, do not drink alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or smoke as these can increase susceptibility to frostbite. Alcohol increases heat loss as it increases surface blood flow. Caffeine will cause water loss and speed up dehydration, while nicotine decreases blood flow to the peripheral body parts.

Prevention of frostbite is all about observing common sense. If frostbite has already occurred, it is important to keep a cool head as you follow the outlined steps in applying treatment. Contact medical help immediately if sensation and color do not return even after having followed the above treatment procedures.

Related questions

1. Is it possible to get frostbite even if the temperature has not reached below freezing?
2. What should be the proper procedure when one gets frostbite?
3. Why is it important to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine when out in the cold?


  1. To answer the related questions, yes it is possible to get frostbite even if the temperature is not below freezing point, especially if there are strong gusts of cold winds going on in the immediate vicinity or area. There are many procedures known to mankind when it comes to treating Frostbite, there are herbal, medicinal and other procedures as well, it would be better if you did a little research in so that you will know what you can do about your frostbite. And for the last question, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are sources of heat, and once your body is exposed to heat and cold at the same time, it can have disastrous effects which could lead to various kinds of diseases.

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