Frostbite most commonly occurs to the extremities of the body ó nose, cheeks, ears, fingers, and toes. Exposing your skin to the cold can result in crystals forming either superficially or in the fluids and underlying soft tissues. Frostbite can range from mild discomfort to damage of the skin tissue, especially if the area has been thawed and refrozen.
The skin may appear slightly flushed before frostbite sets in, turning to white or grayish yellow. Initially the affected part may have a painful tingle, but this usually subsides. The area will feel intensely cold and numb. Often the victim is unaware of the problem until an observer notices the pale, glossy skin.
Third Degree Frostbite Occurs when affected tissue becomes necrotic. It is followed by amputation.
Frostbite attacks in two stages: superficial and deep. Treatment depends on the degree of the frostbite injury. You can decide how severe the frostbite has become by finding out how long the part has been without feeling. If the time is very short, the frostbite is probably superficial. Otherwise, you should assume the injury is deep and therefore serious.
In case of deep frostbite, donít attempt to treat the frostbite in the field. Get to a hospital or aid station as soon as possible. If transportation is available le, donít walk. Protect the frozen part from further injury, but donít try to thaw it by rubbing, bending, or massaging the injured area. Do not soak the frozen area in either cold or warm water or rub with snow. Do not expose the area to hot air, engine exhaust, or open fires. Do not use ointments or salves either. Thawing in the field increases pain and may lead to infection, greater damage, and gangrene. If feet are deeply frostbitten, there is less danger involved in walking on the feet while they are frozen than there is in walking on them after they have thawed. Although thawing of the frozen part is not recommended, the rest of the body should be kept warm.
It is a lot easier to prevent frostbite or to stop it in its early stages than to thaw and care for badly frozen flesh.