Just because the weather is cold doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. Getting out during the winter is important to help prevent cabin fever. Those who get out in freezing temperatures must be careful to avoid frostbite. Here are a few tips to help keep frostbite away.

If you catch frostbite before it gets too bad it can be effectively treated at home. The most minor cases of frostbite are called frostnip and if treated quickly they cause no permanent damage. A doctor, however, should treat anything beyond frostnip, as soon as possible.

What Are the Signs of Frostnip?

Frostnip shows itself as whitish, waxy skin. The area will also feel tingly. If you find signs of frostnip it is important to warm the area as quickly as possible. If you can’t get indoors, use other parts of your body to warm the frost nipped area. If your fingers get frostnip, for example, you could place them under your arm until they are warmed back up.

Once the area is warmed sufficiently the skin may turn red. It will be slightly painful and will probably feel like it has been burned. In some cases blisters may develop. The area will need to be well protected but usually there is no lasting damage.

What Happens if Frostnip Goes Untreated?

Untreated frost nipped areas will develop second-degree frostbite, also known as superficial frostbite. The underlying layers of skin will begin to freeze. The outside of the skin may feel somewhat stiff but the skin underneath will be soft and pliable.

If superficial frostbite is not treated promptly it could become deep or third degree frostbite. The tissue underneath the skin freezes solid and the area loses its sensitivity. The skin turns deep red or purple. Frostbite this severe warrants immediate medical attention. It could result in the loss of limbs without prompt treatment.

How to Treat Frostbite

Frostnip and minor superficial frostbite can be treated at home. If getting to a doctor right away is impossible there are some things you can do to treat deep frostbite until you can get medical help.

* Get indoors as quickly as possible. Remove any wet clothing and get your entire body warmed up. If your body temperature is too low you won’t be able to heal properly.

* Soak the area in warm water until it turns pink. You will probably have to add warm water periodically, because the coldness of the frostbitten area will cool it off quickly.

* Once the area is thawed out, dry it and wrap it in gauze. This will help prevent infection.

* Drink sage tea. This will improve your circulation, help warm you up and aid in healing.

* Gently apply witch hazel, olive oil or aloe vera to the frostbitten area. All of these will promote healing.

* Cover the frostbitten area with the inside of a banana peel. This will alleviate the pain and burning.

Frostbite is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly however, so if you believe it is more than just something that can be treated at home, see your doctor right away before the condition worsens and can’t be treated.

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