- First Aid Essentials Slideshow Pictures
- Trauma and First Aid Quiz
- First Aid Sprains & Strains Slideshow Pictures
- Patient Comments: Frostbite - Experience
- Patient Comments: Frostbite - Recovery Time
- Frostbite and cold weather-related injuries facts
- Introduction to frostbite and cold weather-related injuries
- What type of injuries can be caused by cold weather?
- What are the signs and symptoms of frostbite?
- What are cold weather-related injuries without tissue freezing?
- Trench foot
- Frostbite: Cold weather-related injuries with tissue freezing
- What does frostbite look like (frostbite pictures)?
- How should frostbite and other cold weather-related injuries be treated?
- What is the recovery time for a frostbite injury?
- When should a person seek medical care for a cold weather-related injury?
- Who is most likely to get a cold weather-related injury and what can be done to prevent it?
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.
- 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 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 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.