What You Need to Know About Frostbite?
In the medical terminology frostbite is also known a congelatio. It is a medical condition of the skin and other tissues that has been damage by extreme cold. When the temperature reaches below 0° C or 32° F, the blood vessels which are found closer to the skin’s surface starts to constrict and narrow. This is the body’s response to protect its core temperature. But this body’s protective mechanism response can reduce the flow of blood to some parts of the body that can reach to dangerously low levels when the body is exposed to extreme cold for a prolonged time. When poor blood flow and extreme cold temperature is combined it can cause major and severe damages to the skin tissues by freezing it.
Frostbite though, tends to occur to body parts which are not in close proximity with the heart and also to body parts which are exposed to the cold temperature such as the hands, ears, nose and feet. However, this doesn’t mean that other parts of the body may not get infected by frostbite for they are also as vulnerable as well. Frostnip is the common term for the first stages of frostbite.
The affected area of frostbite is distinguished by pale, hard and cold skin, exposed to extreme cold temperature for a length of time. The area that has been affected will lose its sensitivity to feel and touch but stinging and aching pain will be felt. When the frostbite starts to thaw, the affected flesh will become red and extremely painful. Almost anyone who will be exposed to a freezing cold temperature for an extended period of time is very much susceptible to get frostbite. However, more risks are given to those people who are taking beta-blockers, which are drugs used for heart problems that slows the flow of blood to the skin and those people who are infected with peripheral vascular diseases are also in high risk making them too vulnerable to develop frostbite.
What are the symptoms of frostbite? In the initial stage of frostbite, there will be sensations of “pins and needles” being pricked on the affected part and then it will be followed by numbness. Throbbing and aching might also be experienced earlier but as the time pass it will become insensate making you feel like it a “block of wood”. In severe cases of frostbite, the affected area of the skin will appear numb and white.
Frostbite can be treated but it will require fast and immediate medical attention. In cases where the frostbite is not immediately taken care of and the blood vessels were damaged gravely and permanently or there’s already gangrene on the affected area of the skin, the treatment will become more difficult and more complicated. In these cases, the affected part will be required to be amputated to stop further damage.
It’s time to call for immediate medical assistance when home treatment for mild frostbite does not improve the color and the numbness of the skin and when the condition has recurred with complications such as discoloration, malaise, fever and drainage from the affected part. In severe stages of frostbite, blisters, deep structures damages and gangrene is inevitable.