Frostbite - "Ice Burn"

| In Articles | 3rd August 2020

Frostbite is an injury to body tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold, typically affecting the nose, fingers or toes and often resulting in gangrene.

FROSTBITE - PREDISPOSING FACTORS

  • Hypothermia
  • Dehydration
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Constricting clothing

1ST DEGREE FROSTBITE - "FROSTNIP"

  • Epidermis involved
  • Sunburn
  • Redness and pain
  • Full recovery, no scarring

2ND DEGREE FROSTBITE - "SUPERFICIAL FROSTBITE"

  • Deeper - dermis involved
  • Blisters
  • Longer but full recovery with no scarring

3RD DEGREE FROSTBITE - "DEEP FROSTBITE"

  • Damage to all layers
  • Destroys underlying tissues: muscles, bones, blood vessels
  • Prolonged healing
  • Scarring
  • Loss of extremities

FROSTBITE TREATMENT

  • Rewarming of skin using a warm water bath for 15-20 minutes
  • Pain relief medication
  • Protecting the injury - wrap the area with sterile sheets, towels or dressings
  • Removal (debridement) of damaged tissue
  • Antibiotics
  • Clot busting drugs - thrombolytics - such as Tissue Plasminogen Activator TPA which lowers the risk of amputation
  • Surgery to remove dead or decaying tissue
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy - breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised room