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First aid in case of frostbite: what should I do if I am freezing and frostbite?

First aid with frostbite In the winter time, the flow of patients in traumatic centers increases almost at times.The most common cause of this is fractures, sprains and other injuries.However, there is one type of damage that occurs almost exclusively in the winter - hypothermia and frostbite( or "frostbite", as they are called by people who are not related to medicine). Table of contents: Reasons for frostbite Factors contributing to frostbite: Symptoms of frostbite First aid for frostbite First aid for hypothermia How to prevent frostbite

Reasons for frostbite

The only cause of frostbite is a prolonged exposure to certain parts of the body of low temperatures of air, snow, Ice, water, chilled metal, etc. The effect of cold on the body as a whole leads to supercooling( hypothermia), which, incidentally, does not exclude the parallOf frostbite.

Factors contributing to frostbite:

  • Causes of frostbite duration of exposure to low temperatures;
  • specificity of cold exposure - it is more difficult to freeze frost in air than in contact with ice or water;
  • wind - the stronger, the faster open areas of the body give off heat;
  • humidity - in wet shoes or gloves frostbite occurs much faster;
  • narrow shoes - squeezing feet with shoes worsens their blood supply and reduces the body's ability to local thermoregulation;
  • smoking - constriction of blood vessels leads to a worsening of the blood supply of all tissues;
  • alcohol intoxication - a person in this state is unable to recognize the onset of frostbite in time, and therefore is at greater risk than sober;Moreover, a drunkard can simply fall asleep on the street;
  • children and senile age - imperfection of thermoregulation systems in the first and reduction of their functional capabilities in the second leads to a decrease in the resistance of the organism of children and the elderly to cold influences.

It should be noted that the ability to withstand frost depends to a large extent on genetic factors.So inhabitants of the Polar region( Eskimos, Aleuts, Chukchi) can withstand a relatively long exposure to cold, while Africans can get frostbite already at + 10 ° C.

Symptoms of frostbite

The course of a cold injury is divided into two periods:

  • is pre-reactive, or initial, counted from the onset of low temperature exposure to tissue and before the beginning of warming;
  • reactive, starting from the moment of warming;In this period and develop hypoxia, inflammation and necrosis of tissues.

In the pre-reactive period, initially there is numbness of the skin, itching, a feeling of "stiffness" of the muscles.With a severe leg injury, a person loses the ability to walk, with the defeat of the hands also noted the inability to use them.Somewhat later, the feeling of cold is replaced by a burning sensation, an itch and, as a result, a total loss of sensitivity( anesthesia).The pain in this period is practically absent or extremely insignificant in intensity.

Degrees of frostbite

Only in the second period can you accurately determine the amount of damage and the degree of frostbite and make assumptions about the forecast.

Frostbite depending on the depth of tissue damage is divided into 4 degrees:

  • 1 degree.The victim feels strong burning pain in the area of ​​trauma, experiencing an unbearable itch, sometimes forcing him to comb the affected skin.Often there are paresthesias in the form of "crawling crawling."The skin is crimson, cyanotic or red.
  • 2 degree.The main sign is pain, which, when frostbitten, occurs on the second day and lasts for 2-3 days.Visually, blisters are identified on the skin, filled with a clear liquid( similar to burns).They appear on the second day.
  • 3 degree.The patient feels about the same as with the 2nd degree of frostbite, but the pain is more intense and lasts longer.The skin is affected to its fullest depth, eventually torn away, forming wounds.During healing, scars form.
  • 4 degree.Not only the skin and subcutaneous tissue are affected, but also muscles, ligaments, joints, bones.The intensity of pain depends on the depth and volume of the affected tissues.On day 12, a clear boundary between viable and dead tissues becomes visible.


Normally open areas of the body, such as the nose, cheeks, ears, or the bloodiest or most susceptible to hypothermia-legs, fingers, and hands, are usually frozen.

First aid for frostbite

When frostbitten, tissues lose their ability to resist mechanical, physical and chemical damaging factors.Therefore, the main rule in the provision of first aid is not to perform actions that could aggravate the damage. This is why it is strictly forbidden:

  • rub the frostbitten places with snow, ice, ointments, alcohol-containing solutions( vodka, alcohol, cologne, etc.);
  • to warm the place of injury with intense dry heat( cover with hot heaters, approach the open flame or beam of heater-reflectors);
  • with hot water;
  • piercing blisters;
  • to smoke and consume alcohol( this worsens microcirculation and slows the restoration of blood circulation);
  • to drink coffee.

The first thing to do is to stop the effects of cold.For this, the victim must be transferred to a warm room.

Remove all tight ornaments( if possible!) And always - wet or icy clothes( cut if necessary).

If you can get quick medical help - put sterile bandages on the affected areas of the body.Do not forget to split all your fingers with gauze strips.Wrap hands or feet with a warm cloth - scarf, blanket, etc. Take the victim to a medical facility, trying to touch as little as possible affected areas.

If you can not get qualified medical care( even pre-medical) in the near future, proceed as follows:

  • , place the affected limb in a container of water with a temperature of -18 ° С.
  • Within 20-30 minutes bring the water temperature to 37-38 ° С very smoothly.
  • After half an hour, remove the limb, gently blot it with a soft cloth( do not rub!) And wrap it in a warm one.
  • Give a person a warm tea or water and an anesthetic pill( not a citramone!), Since when warming up, he may experience severe pain.
  • Take measures for the prompt delivery of the victim to the medical facility.


ATTENTION! Repeated freezing of the already warmed limb leads to more serious and profound injuries.If you can not guarantee to ensure the stay of the frostbitten limb in the warmth - better do not start warming it.

First aid for supercooling

Overcooling and frostbite are "cousins", very often affecting the same person at the same time.If the victim has signs of hypothermia, then the provision of first aid in case of frostbite should be postponed.This is due to the fact that hypothermia affects the entire body, and can kill the patient, whereas with frostbite, only the parts of the body suffer.

Symptoms of subcooling:

  • lethargy;
  • drowsiness;
  • movement coordination disorder;
  • confused speech;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • lowering blood pressure, decreasing the frequency of respiratory movements and pulse;
  • drop in body temperature to critical digits.

First aid for supercooling

If a person is conscious, then it is enough to transfer him to a warm room and give him a warm drink.In the absence of consciousness, categorically prohibited are attempts to water the victim hot.Just wrap it, lay it on one side and call an ambulance.

How to prevent frostbite

Knowing the rules of first aid for frostbite is a necessary thing, but any doctor will say what to prevent is better than to cure. Therefore, it is worthwhile to follow simple rules of prevention:

  • warm clothing for weather in several layers - it's trite, but many neglect it;
  • free winter footwear without a heel - close boots compress the leg, worsen its blood supply;
  • use of scarf, hat, gloves - so you can protect your face and hands from frost;
  • rejection of metal jewelry, piercing of open body parts;
  • refusal from alcohol and smoking;
  • high-calorie food;
  • lubrication of open skin areas with a fat cream.


If you get too cold, enter any warm room( shop, cafe, porch) and keep warm.

And the simplest rule - in a severe frost try not to go outside without special need.

Even if you can ideally provide first aid, it may not be enough.Therefore, anyone with frostbite should be taken to a medical facility.Specialists will be able to accurately determine the amount of damage and designate the most sparing and at the same time the most effective treatment.

Bozbey Gennady Andreevich, ambulance doctor

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