Getting to Know Frostbite and How to Handle It

Frostbite is a condition when the skin and underlying tissue are damaged or die due to exposure to very cold temperatures. Frostbite It can occur anywhere on the body, but is more common in the hands, feet, ears, nose and chin.

Frostbite generally occurs when the body is exposed to temperatures that are too cold, either from weather, air, or direct physical contact with very cold objects, such as liquid nitrogen and dry ice.

In addition to exposure to extreme cold temperatures, there are a number of factors that also make a person more at risk of getting it frostbite, including:

  • Too long in cold and windy areas
  • Clothing that is not thick or cannot withstand cold temperatures when in cold places, such as snowy areas
  • Weak body condition due to fatigue, hunger, or dehydration
  • Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, blood vessel disorders, and diabetes
  • Smoking habits, alcohol consumption, or drug use
  • Taking certain drugs, such as beta-blocking drugs

Not only that, frostbite also more at risk in children, the elderly, and people who experience hypothermia in extreme cold temperatures.

Symptom Frostbite Based on Severity

Symptom frostbite varies depending on the severity. The following are the symptoms of frostbite based on their severity from mild to severe:

Level 1: Frostnip

Frostnip is the lightest form of frostbite. This condition can cause the skin to turn red or pale white and feel very cold. If left unchecked, over time this condition can cause parts of the body that are affected frostnip become numb.

When experiencing frostnip, you need to start looking for warm temperatures immediately or stay away from cold temperatures. When warmed, the affected body part frostnip You will feel tingling and pain like pins and needles. This sensation will subside by itself when the body has returned to its normal temperature.

Level 2: superficial frostbite

Superficial frostbite or superficial frostbite characterized by swollen, pale or bluish skin. At this stage, ice crystals begin to form in the skin tissue, making the skin feel rough and hard. This condition can sometimes cause ice burn.

When warmed, the skin will feel sore or sore like burning and peeling. Nevertheless, superficial frostbite It is generally curable and the skin will heal in approximately 6 months.

Level 3: deep frostbite

Deep frostbite is frostbite which is bad. This condition is characterized by numbness of the skin and a bluish appearance. At this level, damage has occurred in all layers of skin tissue. In fact, the muscles and joints around the frozen area may not function properly.

Once warmed, the skin will blister and turn hard and black. This indicates that the body tissue has died (gangrene).

The longer a person is exposed to extreme cold temperatures, the more severe the condition will be frostbite what he experienced. Frostbite can occur within 30 minutes at a temperature of -28o Celsius. While in the temperature of -35° Celsius, frostbite can happen in less than 10 minutes.

Although it can happen quickly, frostbite it is often too late to notice due to the accompanying numbness sensation. This causes the condition frostbite is often detected too late, making it more difficult to treat.

How to Handle Frostbite

Handling frostbite may differ, depending on the severity. Frostnip usually can be resolved by using warm water or warm the body near a fireplace. Meanwhile, superficial frostbite and deep frostbite need immediate medical help.

The following are the handling steps frostbite:

1. Stay away from cold sources

The first step to deal with frostbite is to move away from the cold source as quickly as possible. You can protect your skin from exposure to cold temperatures, for example by tucking your hands under your armpits or covering your face with a dry cloth. This is important so that the skin damage does not get worse.

Also, do not rub the affected skin area frostbite to keep him warm. This action can actually further damage the skin tissue.

2. Warms the affected skin area frostbite

If you are already in a warm place, change your clothes immediately and use a blanket to increase body temperature. After that, soak the frozen skin area in warm water at 40° Celsius for 15–30 minutes.

Once warmed, the skin area should not be exposed to cold again in the near future. This is because the skin can freeze again and be damaged, even worse than before.

3. Using drugs

If you experience symptoms frostbite levels 2 and 3, you are advised to immediately see a doctor. The heating process can usually cause severe pain, so the doctor will give you painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

In severe cases, patients frostbite also need to get intravenous fluids to restore body fluids lost due to cold temperatures. Affected skin area frostbite also need to be cleaned and bandaged to prevent infection.

4. Perform surgery

Surgery is generally necessary in cases of frostbite severe or has caused tissue death. This condition indicates that the body's tissue has been permanently damaged and cannot be repaired, so it needs to be removed.

If necessary, an amputation will be performed by a doctor to remove dead body tissue.

The sooner the symptoms frostbite detected, the damage to body tissue is even easier to repair. However, if it is too severe or exposure to cold temperatures has lasted too long, frostbite will usually be more difficult to handle.

Therefore, if you feel the symptoms frostbite, especially if you are in a place where the temperature is very cold, go to the doctor immediately to get treatment before your condition develops into more severe.