Frost nip occurs when a part of the body gets very cold as is a cold injury. As it gets worse, the skin will freeze then develop in to frost bite. Frost nip if treated quickly can be stopped or reduced by gently warming like putting fingers under the armpit, flexing the fingers or breathing on the fingers. Frost nip usually occurs in the first 30 minutes so fast treatment can sometimes avoid it developing into frost bite.
Frost nip and frost bite usually occur in the feet and hands. As the item gets colder the blood flow is reduced causing the fluid between the cells to be reduced and it freezes. This restriction of fluids can be caused by the cold or by tight gloves or boots reducing blood flow making freezing easier.
The risk of frost bite is increased if the person has taken illegal drugs, alcohol, smoking, diabetes , taken sedatives or has circulation problems like Reynaulds disease. Reynaulds disease is a circulatory condition that effects mainly the fingers and toes.
Frost bite has two types, mild and deep. With Mild frostbite the era is cold and sometimes painful. There can be a tingling, itching, burning sensation or numbness. The skin feels stiff but the underlying skin still feels sold and pliable. The treatment is to remove from the cold, find shelter and treat as for hypothermia. The slow warming that we do for frost nip is the best treatment but the patient may feel a lot of pain as the warming process continues.
Deep frostbite is where treatment for mild frost bite had not worked, there is a complete loss of sensation,the skin may be blue, black, or red and mottled. There may also be swelling, blisters or redness and the tissue will not feel normal. Treatment is to get the person to the EMS as soon as possible or activate mountain rescue if in a remote area. While waiting for help, do not further rewarding or start rewarding. Protect the area from further freezing, remove jewellery as the area may swell and this will cause more problems and dry the area carefully and wrap in a spare clothing.
The best thing to do is to prevent frost nip and frost bite it prevention. Wear the correct size of clothes, use wind proof and waterproof materials and finally do not over tighten clothes and equipment.