Frostbite Causes

This page examines the frostbite causes. The basic cause of frostbite can be easily explained as overexposure of the skin to freezing temperatures or extreme cold. This can be as a result of the environmental conditions or can be as a result of workplace accidents for those individuals that use or are regularly exposed to liquefied gases such as liquid nitrogen.

The amount of skin exposure time required to cause frostbite varies from person to person and it also depends on the actual temperature that the skin is exposed to, the presence of wind or wind chill, the amount of clothing worn, the dampness or wetness of the clothing, whether there was any alcohol consumption, previous incidences of frostbite, and several other factors.

The areas of the body that normally are affected the most often by frostbite include the face (nose, cheeks, forehead, and ears), hands (especially fingers), and feet (usually the toes).

Frostbite causes can be linked to pre-existing health conditions which can make individuals more susceptible to frostbite. Peripheral neuropathy and diabetes are two such conditions. Poor circulation is another. However, poor circulation is not necessarily only because of an existing medical condition. Clothing or boots that are too tight can restrict blood circulation and make skin tissue more susceptible to frostbite. The use of certain medications such as beta blockers will also make individuals more vulnerable to frost bite. People that fall into these categories should take extra precautions when exposing their skin to freezing cold temperatures.

Within the body, what causes frostbite to occur? When the body is exposed to cold temperatures the blood vessels on the extremities naturally constrict in order to preserve body temperature. Less blood flow to the extremities means less blood cooling and more heat retained in the body. This is a common body defense system when the body temperature is getting too low. Unfortunately, the reduced blood flow caused by this defense mechanism is one of the frostbite causes because it leads to poor warming of skin tissue and therefore, a risk of skin freezing. This is one reason why frostbite has a greater likelihood of affecting skin further away from the heart. Also, areas further away from the heart are more likely to be less well protected from the cold.

Other frostbite resources that may useful are provided below:

frostbite | symptoms | prevention | pictures | treatment 

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