While often fun and enjoyable, winter weather can present health risks if you are overexposed to the cold temperatures. Frostbite occurs when soft tissue, usually in the fingers or toes, freezes. While severe cases can result in amputation, most cause no permanent damage if the skin is warmed up carefully.

Symptoms of Frostbite

If you notice any of the symptoms below, seek immediate medical treatment.

  • Blisters
  • Numbness
  • Blackness
  • Tingling, throbbing, redness, and/or swelling of affected area upon re-warming

Treatment for Frostbite

  • Move the numb part of the body to increase blood supply.
  • Go indoors immediately.
  • Do not rub the affected area to warm it up, as it may cause tissue damage.
  • Place the affected area in warm (not hot) water.

A young child outdoors in the snow wearing a heavy lime green jacket and fleece beanie face mask

Preventing Frostbite

To prevent frostbite, follow these helpful tips:

  • Avoid going outdoors or prolonged exposure during extreme cold weather. If you must be outdoors for any period of time, it is very important that you dress appropriately and have exposed skin covered.
  • Prepare your home and car in advance for winter emergencies. Make sure you have snacks and warm clothing and blankets available in case of an emergency.
  • Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of frostbite.
  • Children at school bus stops, those who work outdoors, or outdoor winter enthusiasts should practice additional caution to make sure they are appropriately dressed and won’t remain outdoors for extended periods.