Frostbite Treatment

Frostbite

Exposure to dry cold well below freezing causes frostbite, with resultant structural and functional disturbances of the small blood vessels, cells, nerves, and skin Visit our podiatrist in Irvine.

Loss of body heat is by conduction (wet clothing, contact with metal), convection (windchill) and radiation. Susceptibility to cold injury is increased by dehydration; drug or alcohol excess; impaired consciousness; exhaustion; hunger; anaemia; impaired circulation due to cardiovascular disease and in the very young or elderly.

Exposure to damp cold (temperatures around freezing) cause frostnip.

Hypothermia occurs when the body cannot sustain normal temperature. As shivering ceases, the body becomes unable to warm itself and the core temperature falls.

Ice crystals form within or between cells, interfering with the sodium pump, and subsequent cell rupture. Dry cold injury is usually superficial: the hard carapace of dry gangrene is often only a few millimeters thick over healthy tissue. Wet gangrene is often complicated by infection and tends to be deeper.

Frostbite Symptoms, Signs and Diagnosis

Frostnip manifests as firm, cold, white areas on face, ears or extremities. Peeling or blistering may occur in 24 to 72 hours.

Frostbite manifests as hard, white, cold, anaesthetic areas, which on warming, become blotchy red, swollen and painful. Depending on the extent of injury, the area may recover normally or deteriorate to soft gangrene or the black crust of dry gangrene.

In hypothermia, the falling core temperature leads to lethargy, clumsiness, mental confusion, irritability, hallucinations, slowed or arrested respiration and finally death. A victim should not be considered dead until "warm and dead".

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