I Have Frostbite. Now what?

These bitterly cold days’ of -20 including the wind-chill our extremities namely hands and feet are at high risk for developing frostbite. The severity of frostbite injury is proportional to the temperature and exposure time. Frostbite, however does covers a wide range of injuries, from minimal tissue damage to substantial tissue necrosis that can result in amputation.


Predisposing Factors (no specific order)

Cold temperatures

Prolong exposure to cold

Smoking

Inadequate clothing

Older age

Vascular disease

Intoxication 

Men

African Americans (4 times more likely)


Phases of Frostbite

1. Pre-Freeze phase / 2. Freeze Thaw phase Direct tissue injury occurs with exposure to cold as you can see with the 2nd and 3rd toes there is slight discoloration with swelling this is related to the dehydration of the cells which diffuse the water out and within the toe. Further rewarming also increases edema of the affected area. If left untreated and skin tissue debrided a compartment syndrome may occur further damaging stable cells.