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Frostbite Treatments


Rapid rewarming in a warm (100 to 110°F) water bath is the treatment of choice. Slow rewarming may cause more tissue damage.

If you are stranded with frostbite and unable to get medical help:

  • Try to get to a warm location. Wrap yourself in blankets.
  • Do not put snow or hot water on the injured area.
  • Do not rub affected areas.
  • Tuck your hands into your armpits to try to rewarm them.
  • If it's available, use warm water (at about 105°F [40°C]) to rewarm your frostbitten area.
  • Avoid refreezing the affected area. This can result in more severe injury.
  • Walking on frozen feet and toes can cause damage. It may be more important to find shelter.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Avoid alcohol and sedatives.
  • Cover the injured area with a clean cloth until you can get medical help.
  • Rewarming can be intensely painful. To relieve pain take:

If you're able to get medical assistance, treatment may include moving you to a warm place and wrapping you in blankets. The injured body part may be soaked in warm (not hot) water.

Other treatments may include:

  • Opening and emptying blisters.
  • Taking antibiotics.
  • Taking pain medication.
  • Keeping the injured body part elevated above your heart.
  • Getting a tetanus booster shot .
  • Receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy . This is a special chamber under greater pressure than normal. It will help with blood flow and tissue repair.
  • Amputation of all or part of the affected body part. This may be necessary in severe frostbite cases.

If you are diagnosed with frostbite, follow your doctor's instructions .

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