Frostbite is the medical condition in which localized damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to freezing. This happens to parts of the body furthest away from the heart. Frostbite is most commonly experienced on your face, hands and feet.
Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:
- Cold skin
- The "pins and needles" feeling, like when your hand falls asleep
- Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
Frostbite occurs in several stages:
- Frostnip. Frostnip the the mildest form of frostbite. Your skin pales or turns red and feels very cold. Continued exposure leads to prickling and numbness in the affected area. Frostnip doesn't permanently damage the skin.
- Superficial frostbite. The second stage of frostbite is when the effecteed area turns white or pale. Some ice crystals may form in the tissue, but your skin will remain soft. At this point the skin may begin to feel warm. At this stage it is importantt to gradually warm the body. do not run under hot water or expose to direct heat. as the body warms the surface of your skin may appear mottled, blue or purple. You may notice stinging, burning and swelling. Blisters might also devlope.
- Severe (deep) frostbite. As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin, including the tissues that lie below. You may experience numbness, losing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort in the affected area. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.