A proper treatment for frostbite is required in order to ensure that the skin recovers properly and so that no serious health complications occur.
The first step in treating frostbite is to stop any more frostbite from occurring or preventing the frostbite condition from getting worse. The frostbite sufferer should be brought indoors and any wet clothing removed. A warm drink will help warm the frostbite suffer and address any dehydration problems. Ensure that there is good circulation by removing any items which restrict circulation.
If the frostbite is severe, get the victim to the hospital immediately. If the frostbite is minor, then a treatment for frostbite can be employed. A rewarming process is the basis for treating frostbite. This can be accomplished by wrapping the affected skin area in blankets or by immersing the affected skin in warm water for 15 to 30 minutes. The water temperature should be about 100 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm cloths may be used instead of water immersion. Sensation and proper color should start to return to the skin within the specified time period. If not, then consult with a physician and especially if you have any doubts or concerns. There will be a certain amount of pain and burning sensation of the skin, the skin may blister and it may discolor depending on the severity of the frostbite, as the rewarming process occurs. After treatment, it is recommended to apply sterile dressings to the affected area if blisters are present to prevent infection.
There are certain things you should not do when treating frostbite. The first thing is not to delay getting medical attention if severe frost bite is suspected. This is also important because frostbite victims often may have hypothermia as well and thus medical attention becomes doubly important. Avoid the following frostbite treatment procedures that individuals sometimes mistakenly employ as they may lead to considerable skin tissue damage: the use of direct heat for skin warming from heating pads, hair dryers, fire, hot water, etc.; if the skin is at risk at being refrozen then do not thaw the skin until medical attention can be given; do not rub skin that is suspected of being frostbitten; do not rub snow or ice on the frostbitten skin; avoid popping blisters that may have formed on the skin; and avoid disturbing the frostbitten skin as much as possible.
Note that even though a frostbite treatment is given, permanent damage may still occur. This can be the case when the frostbite was severe and deep into the skin tissue, thereby affecting the nerves, blood vessels, muscle, and bone. Gangrene may occur, leading to loss of skin tissue and in the worst case scenario amputation. Therefore, frostbite is not something that should be taken lightly and it is good to be aware of a proper treatment for frostbite.
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