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Home :: Blood Disorders

Frost Bite


Buergers Disease
Frost Bite
Hemolytic Anemia
Hodgkins Disease
Megaloblastic Anemia
Raynauds Disease

Frost Bite is due to exposure to cold, especially if accompanied by wind or high altitudes (eg climbers and explorers). It is also encountered in the elderly and chronic alcoholics during exposure to cold weather.

Frost bite ( congelatio in medical terminology) is the medical condition whereby damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. Mountain frostbite is a variation observed among mountain climbers and others exposed to extremely cold temperatures at high altitude. This is caused by exposure to cold, either through the air or through a chemical exposure, like to dry ice (frozen CO2) or highly compressed gasses. Skin that is not covered in the cold will first become red and swollen and it will feel like it is stinging or burning. If skin remains exposed to the cold, it will feel like it is tingling and will look grey. Rewarming causes cell swelling, erythrocyte and platelet aggregation, endothelial cell damage, thrombosis, tissue edema, increased compartment space pressure, bleb formation, localized ischemia, and tissue death. Underlying responses to these injuries include generation of oxygen free radicals, production of prostaglandins and thromboxane A2, release of proteolytic enzymes, and generalized inflammation. With a loss of warming blood flow (or in extreme cases where blood flow can not compete with the extreme cold) the fluid within your cells and tissues start to freeze forming ice crystals. Long term exposure to moderate cold with wet boots can cause a more serious injury than a short-term exposure to severe cold with inadequate boots in the case of your feet. It is a complex equation that needs to be weighed careful when being outdoors in the cold.

Frostbite is a medical condition that can happen to anyone. Cold exposure leads to ice crystal formation, cellular dehydration, protein inhibition of DNA synthesis, abnormal cell wall permeability with resultant osmotic changes, damage to capillaries, and pH changes. This helps to preserve core body temperature. In extreme cold or when the body is exposed to cold for long periods, this protective strategy can reduce blood flow in some areas of the body to dangerously low levels. ). It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that frostbite need not happen even at extremes of altitude, temperature and fatigue: frequently a degree of carelessness is the chief cause. He also noted the harmful effects of the freeze-thaw-freeze cycle endured by soldiers who would warm their frozen hands and feet over the campfire at night only to refreeze those same parts by the next morning. If just the skin surface is affected, it's known as superficial frostbite; deep frostbite affects underlying tissues. Body tissues actually freeze when they are frostbitten. Ice crystals form in the cell, causing physical damage and permanent changes in cell chemistry Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart , and those with a lot of surface area exposed to cold. These areas include the toes, fingers, ears and nose. It is related, but not identical, to hypothermia

Causes of Frost Bite

The common Causes of Frost Bite :

  • Individuals stranded in cold weather.
  • Soldiers, cold weather rescuers, and laborers working in a cold environment.
  • Winter and high-altitude athletes.
  • Infection.
  • Peripheral vascular disease.
  • Although anyone who is exposed to freezing cold for a prolonged period of time can get frostbite, people who are taking beta-blockers, which decrease the flow of blood to the skin, are particularly susceptible.
  • Previous cold injury.
  • Use of inadequate or constrictive clothing.
  • In the first, ice crystals form in the space outside of the cells.

Symptoms of Frost Bite

Some are common Symptoms of Frost Bite :

  • People with circulation problems, including diabetics and people with atherosclerosis.
  • Anyone who has had a previous injury caused by cold.
  • People who take certain drugs such as alcohol, nicotine or beta-blockers, which decrease the flow of blood to the skin.
  • Blackening skin.
  • Local swelling.
  • Greying of affected area.
  • At first the areas may appear deceptively healthy. Most people do not arrive at the doctor with frozen, dead tissue.
  • Local pallor.
  • Local numbness.
  • skin is reddened and then becomes white, hard, and swollen.

Treatment of Frost Bite

  • Gently exercise affected area after it has been rewarmed.
  • Discontinue warming techniques as soon as affected area becomes flushed.
  • Give the person warm, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated fluids to drink.
  • Elevate frostbitten areas, but not higher than heart.
  • Do not rub or massage the skin.
  • Move to a warm area to prevent further heat loss.
  • Above all, keep in mind that the final amount of tissue destruction is proportional to the time it remains frozen, not to the absolute temperature to which it was exposed.
  • Slow warming.
  • Keep the affected part elevated in order to reduce swelling .
  • DO take off any wet or restrictive clothing.