Frostbite is caused by thermal injury to the skin and soft underlying tissues. It occurs in winter with extended exposure to the cold. At risk are those caught in the elements for extended periods of time that may not have proper clothing or protection, including homeless people.

  • Motorists, runners, hunters and those participating in winter sports should be aware of warning signs of frostbite. The areas of most concern are the feet, hands, ears and nose.
  • Alcohol intake and smoking increase the risk of frostbite injury.
  • The first signs of frostbite injury are redness and numbness followed by swelling and blister formation at 6-24 hours. Seek medical attention immediately if blisters are noted.
  • To prevent frostbite, wear layers of clothing with a waterproof outer layer. Layers can be removed or added as needed.
  • Motorists should have a winter emergency survival kit in their cars in case they are stranded.
Return to list