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Frostbite, Chilblains : Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Saturday, July 14th 2012. | Physical Health

Frostbite, chilblains definition

Hypothermia as Frostbite are emergencies that require prompt and effective treatment. See Hypothermia >>
Frostbite affects exposed body parts (fingers, toes, nose or ears) on contact to extreme cold. There is then a lack of vascularised tissue, which come to die in the worst cases.

The specific knowledge and skills necessary to provide first aid are important in case of frostbite: Never use hot water bottle, do not rub or move too suddenly frozen parts. Frostbite can result in frostbite or changes in skin appearance. Depending on the circumstances, frostbite significant (stage III / see symtpômes) are detectable only after several weeks.

Frostbite Causes

A strong and continuous cold, most often associated with moisture and wind, causes a decrease in the vasculature of exposed skin. Consequences: tissue damage up to apoptosis (cell death).

Preventing accidents on the move, particularly in water, mountain or wearing wet clothing can cause hypothermia. A sudden drop in body temperature is life-threatening (see >> hypothermia).

Frostbite Disorders (symptoms)

The three stages of frostbite

Stage I :

  • Cool, pale, sharp pain in the region most exposed skin (fingers, feet, cheeks, ears, nose)
  • Browning of the skin, as with burns, vesiculation appears. Frostbite is usually heal without complications

Stage II – visible only after warming

  • Redness, swelling, vesiculation, particularly the feet and hands
  • clear bulbs will heal well
  • bloody bulbs: the longest to heal
  • bulbs with slashes risk of infections

Stage III – the most severe form of frostbite, detectable only after several days or weeks

  • Black skin, dry, hard subcutaneous tissue (necrosis)
  • Loss of sensation
  • Line visible between living tissue and tissue necrosis

Frostbite (img : emedicinehealth.com)

Frostbite Examinations (Diagnosis)

In general, the history and state of the subject enough to make a diagnosis. We perform a physical examination of the subject and is monitored vital signs (heart / breathing).

Important : at the beginning, each is as frostbite frostbite stage 1. Only after several days or weeks that you can see a stage III frostbite. (see symtoms)

Frostbite Treatment Options


Frostbite and hypothermia are extreme emergencies. The following measures are essential:

  • Protective gloves
  • Get the patient as quickly as possible in a heated area or cover it with a woolen blanket or a blanket
  • Provide hot drinks and sweet
  • Not activate the frozen, the rescuer will attempt to warm the patient with its heat. Caution: Do not rub, do not use hot water bottle, do not rub with snow; risk of irreparable damage!
  • Cover slightly frozen body parts
  • The frozen plunge into a warm bath (maximum 10 ° C), adjust the temperature according to the degree of subject’s resistance to pain
  • Warmed slowly to a maximum temperature of 38 °
  • May administer analgesics (aspirin
  • Move the affected limbs if possible, and otherwise raise
  • Hospitalize the patient immediately if vesiculation

Frostbite Possible Complications

Paresthesias appearing during another bout of cold can sometimes be detected in early stages of frostbite. When the surfaces of wounds are important, there are scars. An amputation is feasible for stage III frostbite.

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