Frostbite - Information
and First Aid Help

Frostbite occurs when areas of the body are exposed to extremely cold temperatures resulting in the skin and/or underlying tissues literally freezing.

frostbite hands

As a result of exposure to extreme cold the body withdraws the blood from it's extremities in an attempt to keep it's core body temperature at about 98.6°F (36.9°C) thus there is reduced heat to the tissue and skin at the area. Once this happens there is ice crystallisation within the body tissue that has been exposed. This may cause damage to the blood vessels themselves and may cause blood clots and lack of oxygen to the area.

Careful handling of the area is needed to help prevent permanent tissue damage. 


  • May progress from pain or a burning sensation to numbness and eventually complete loss of feeling.
  • The area may appear pale, red, blue/grey or black. Some blisters maybe present and they could be clear or blood filled, possibly purple looking. Depending on the extent of the frostbite the surface may have some resistance or be very hard, cold to touch and appear "waxy".
  • The body parts more likely affected are the areas with less blood flow or parts that are exposed to the elements like fingers, hands, toes, feet, nose, ears and face.
  • A person with frostbite may also be suffering lowered body temperature (hypothermia) so check for this and treat before attending to the injured area. Saving their life is the priority over saving a toe or foot.

Let's see how to apply First Aid for Frostbite...

(photo supplied by Wikipedia - author Winky from Oxford, UK)

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