Clinical Pearl of the Day: Frostbite
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues.
- In the earliest stage of frostbite, known as frostnip, there is no permanent damage to skin.
- Symptoms include cold skin and a prickling feeling, followed by numbness and inflamed or discolored skin. As frostbite worsens, skin may become hard or waxy-looking.
- Frostbite occurs in few stages: Frostnip, superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite.
- Causes may include staying in cold for too long and wearing clothes that are not appropriate.
- Risk factors include alcohol use, smoking, fear, panic, previous frostbite history, and being an infant.
- Diagnosis includes skin evaluation and assessment by the health care professional.
- Treatment includes rewarming the skin, oral pain medication, removing the damaged skin, infection-fighting drugs, clot-busting drugs, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and wound care.