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    First Aid & Emergencies

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    Frostbite Treatment

    Call 911 if:

    • A part of the person's body or skin is turning white and hard or black.
    • The person has lack of feeling in the area.
    • The person shows signs of hypothermia.

    • A part of the person's body or skin is turning white and hard or black.
    • The person has lack of feeling in the area.
    • The person shows signs of hypothermia.

    See Hypothermia Treatment.

    1. Seek Medical Care Promptly

    • See a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room.

    2. Restore Warmth

    Until you can see a doctor:

    • Get the person to a warm place and remove any wet clothing.
    • Unless absolutely necessary, the person should not walk on frostbitten toes or feet.
    • Do not rewarm the skin until you can keep it warm. Warming and then re-exposing the frostbitten area to cold air can cause worse damage.
    • Gently warm the area in warm water (not hot) or with wet heat until the skin appears red and warm.
    • If no water is nearby, breathe on the area through cupped hands and hold it next to your body.
    • Do not use direct heat from heating pads, radiator, or fires.
    • Do not rub or massage the skin or break blisters.

    3. Bandage the Area

    • Loosely apply dry, sterile dressings.
    • Put gauze or clean cotton balls between fingers or toes to keep them separated.

    4. Follow Up

    Once you get medical care, the next steps depend on the particular case.

    • At the hospital, a doctor will rewarm the area.
    • The doctor may administer medication for pain or intravenous fluids if the person is dehydrated.
    • The doctor may also give a tetanus vaccine.
    • The person may be hospitalized for a few days.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on October 10, 2015

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