Damage to the skin resulting from exposure to low temperatures (cold) and/or wind. Often affects parts of the body that have the poorest circulation of blood and the greatest exposure to the cold. Hands, feet, face, and ears are the most commonly affected body parts.
§ Considerable pain and redness in fingers, toes, cheeks, ears or nose.
§ Grayish white color due to frozen tissues
Much like burns, the degree of severity is described as first degree, second and third degree.
First Degree: Skin is white or slightly yellow, there is a burning or itching feeling.
Second Degree: Skin is reddened or swollen and there is no feeling.
Third Degree: If the skin is waxy or hard, the skin tissue has died. There may be blistering. Severe cases may result in damage to the muscles, tendons and nerves. Blood clots may form and inhibit circulation causing gangrene.
§ Until victim can be brought indoors, cover exposed parts of the body
§ In all cases, go indoors, thaw affected area by immersion in water slightly warmer (NOT HOT) than bath water. After immersion, pat the affected area dry. Do not rub or chafe frozen members. Apply warm, not hot cloths. Give warm liquids. Handle patient gently and don't expose him to excessive heat. Do not have patient drink alcoholic beverages or smoke as this constricts the blood vessels.
Get advanced medical assistance as soon as possible
The Little First Aid Book, Amber Raine, 2002.
Information in part from: USDA Handbook #227