Frostbite is a type of injury that occurs when the skin and underlying tissues freeze. It is most commonly seen on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, and cheeks. Frostbite can be very serious, and if not treated promptly, it can result in permanent tissue damage and even amputation.
STEP 1 According to the American Heart Association, the first step in treating frostbite is to get the person out of the cold environment and into a warm, dry place. Do not try to thaw the frostbitten area if there is a risk of it refreezing.
STEP 2 Next, immerse the frostbitten area in warm water (about 104-108 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15-30 minutes. Do not use hot water, as this can cause tissue damage. Do not use a heating pad, hair dryer, or other heating devices, as these can also cause tissue damage.
STEP 3 If the frostbitten area is numb and the person cannot feel the water, have someone else immerse the area for them. If the fro-
stbitten area is too large to immerse, use warm, moist compresses instead. Once the frostbitten area has thawed, cover it with a sterile dressing and elevate it, if possible. Do not massage the frostbitten area, as this can cause further tissue damage.
STEP 4 If the person is able to swallow and is not nauseated, give them something to drink to help prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can cause blood vessels to constrict and make the frostbite worse.
STEP 5 Once the frostbitten area has been treated, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The person may need further medical treatment, such as medication to prevent infection or surgery to remove damaged tissue.
In summary, the American Heart Association recommends treating frostbite by getting the person out of the cold environment and into a warm, dry place. Immerse the frostbitten area in warm water for 15-30 minutes, or use warm, moist compresses if the area is too large to immerse. Cover the frostbitten area with a sterile dressing and elevate it, if possible. Give the person something to drink to help prevent dehydration, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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