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Is frostbite a skin injury?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
Frostbite, a skin injury that occurs from prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, generally heals on its own when treated with first aid. However, frostbite can occasionally be serious. If you think you might have frostbite, first try to treat it at home by warming the affected areas using warm water. Do not rub the affected area because this may increase damage to the tissue. Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, stove, fireplace, or radiator to rewarm the affected area; these may warm your skin unevenly or may burn your skin, particularly if it's numb and you cannot tell how hot your skin is getting on the surface. If the skin turns pink and begins to tingle, blood is again beginning to circulate.
If the area stays numb, however, or you experience sustained pain, your frostbite may be severe. To treat this type of frostbite, you will need advanced medical care. Severe frostbite can result in a variety of complications, including numbness and gangrene.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.