First Aid: Frostbite
From KidsHealth.org. Reviewed by Kate M. Cronan, MD. Date reviewed: July 2018
Exposure to below-freezing temperatures can cause frostbite, a rare but serious condition that needs emergency medical care. Frostbite can affect any area of the skin, and in extreme cold can develop within minutes.
Signs and Symptoms:
- aching pain or numbness, most often hands, feet, face, and ears
- skin that feels hard and waxy, with a white or grayish yellow color
What to Do:
If you think your child has frostbite, call the doctor right away. Then:
- Bring your child indoors immediately. Do not try to thaw frostbite unless you're in a warm place (warming and then reexposing frozen skin to cold can cause permanent damage).
- remove wet clothing.
- don't rub frostbittten areas - treat them gently.
- Don't use dry heat - such as fireplace, oven, or heating pad - to thaw frostbite.
- Don't break any blisters.
- Warm the frostbitten parts in warm (not hot) water for about 30 minutes. Place clean cotton balls between frostbitten fingers and toes fter they've been warmed.
- Lossely wrap warmed areas with clean bandages to prevent refreezing.
- Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
Get Emergency Medical Care if Your Child Has:
- an area of skin that is turning white and hard
Stay updated on weather forecasts. Keep kids warm and dry in cold weather. Loose-fitting, layered warm clothes are best. have kids wear well-insulated boots, thick socks, hats, scarves, and mittens. Ice packs applied directly to the skin can cause frostbite - always cover ice packs with a cloth before applying to skin.
Cronan, K. M. (2018). First aid: Frostbite. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/frostbite-sheet.html
Last Updated: January 25th 2019