Frostbite Symptoms and Signs

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Frostbite is an injury resulting from freezing of the tissues in the body. The hands and feet are most commonly affected by frostbite, but the nose, cheeks, shins, ears, and even the corneas of the eyes may be affected by frostbite.

Frostbite typically occurs in soldiers or others who work outdoors, or in outdoor winter sports enthusiasts. People who become stranded outdoors can also become victims of frostbite. Nicotine and other drugs that reduce blood circulation to the extremities (called vasoconstrictive drugs) can increase a person's chances of developing frostbite. There is no official reporting system for frostbite cases in the U.S., but it is known to affect predominantly residents of the northern states, including Alaska. Research has shown that African American men and women are slightly more prone to develop frostbite than Caucasians. Other people who may be more predisposed to frostbite are those of Arabic descent and those who reside in warm climates. Men develop frostbite more often than women, but this may reflect a greater participation in sports and outdoor activities.

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