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Cold Temperature Exposure - Home Treatment

Most minor cold injuries will heal on their own, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your symptoms and promote healing. But if you think you may have a more severe cold injury, use first aid measures while you arrange for an evaluation by your doctor. These first aid measures can also be used for children. Be sure to warm the child's whole body with blankets as well as the cold injured parts.

  • If you have hypothermia, try immediate first aid measures. Stay calm, find shelter, change to dry clothes, keep moving, and drink warm fluids to prevent further heat loss and slowly rewarm yourself.
  • If small areas of your body (ears, face, nose, fingers, toes) are really cold or frozen, try home treatment first aid to warm these areas and prevent further injury to skin. Warm small areas by blowing warm air on them, tucking them inside your clothing, or putting them in warm water.

Frostbitten skin may be more sensitive after the cold injury. The injured skin area should be protected with sunscreen and protective clothing to prevent further skin damage. The color of the injured skin may also change over time.

Apply aloe vera or another moisturizer, such as Lubriderm or Keri lotion, to windburned skin. Reapply often. There is little you can do to stop skin from peeling after a windburn—it is part of the healing process—but home treatment may make your skin feel better.

Use nonprescription artificial tears warmed to body temperature to moisturize and soothe eyes that are cold, sore, or dry from exposure to cold or wind.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Symptoms of a skin infection develop, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
  • Blisters develop after you begin home treatment.
  • Symptoms have not gotten better or have gotten worse after 1 hour of rewarming treatment.
  • Symptoms become more severe or frequent.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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