Frostbite occurs when the skin and the outer layers of tissue become frozen. It tends to affect the extremeties (fingers, toes, ears and nose) and cause them to become pale, gray, and blistered. Children are more susceptible to frostbite than adults because they lose body heat faster and are less likely to heed the warning signs (e.g. numbness) when they're having fun in the snow!
The early stage of frostbite is frostnip, and often can be treated at home by removing wet clothes and immersing the affected area in warm water or in warm compresses until sensation returns.
If warming the skin doesn't help, call us immediately. In the meantime, do the following:
- Give your child something warm to drink and wrap a blanket around him/her.
- Warm the skin by using warm compresses or immersing the area in warm water until sensation returns.
- Apply clean cotton or gauze between fingers and toes if they are affected.
- Wrap warmed areas of the skin to prevent further damage.
- Don't rub or massage the affected area.
- Don't use direct heat such as heating pads or fires.
- Don't disturb any blisters.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping all of a child's body parts covered (with gloves, hats, waterproof boots, layers of clothing, etc.) in order to prevent frostbite. It is a good idea to have your child come inside if mittens or boots get wet, and it is a good idea to have your child come inside at regular intervals.
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