First Aid Guide – Treating frostbite

Frostbite causes the tissues of the extremities to freeze because of extremely low temperatures. Usually it affects the fingers and toes and it can lead to permanent loss of sensation or even gangrene (tissue death) due to irreversible damage to blood vessels.

Freezing, cold and windy conditions can cause frostbite and it can often be accompanied by hypothermia. Those who can’t move around are especially at risk. If you think that someone may have frostbite, look out for these signs:

  • Hardening or stiffening of skin
  • Pins and needles
  • Pallor and then numbness
  • Colour changes to the skin – first it may appear white and then mottled and blue. The skin may turn red and blistered on recovery. If gangrene sets in, it may turn black

You should try to move the patient into a warm area, removing their gloves, boot and rings. Warm the affected body part with your hands, but don’t rub as this can cause damage to tissues and skin. The affected part should be placed in warm water around 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Carefully dry it and apply a fluffed-up dry gauze bandage. The affected limb should be raised and supported to reduce swelling, and the casualty taken to hospital. You should not allow them to smoke nor put the affected limb near a direct heat source, neither should you attempt to thaw the affected limb if there is danger of it refreezing.

Affected by frostbite

If you’ve been affected by frostbite you will know how scary it can be and how important it is to get the right first aid treatment. You are reliant on other people to help you and prevent gangrene from setting in. If you feel that the first aid treatment you received was negligent and you have suffered as a result – for example if you have lost a limb to gangrene – you could claim compensation for your pain and suffering. A three year time limit usually applies in which to make a claim, so it’s important to act fast.

Call on Accident Advice Helpline

You can trust Accident Advice Helpline to assist you with your claim for compensation if you have been affected by frostbite or gangrene. Take the 30-second test on our website and you’ll find out how much you could claim, or simply call our freephone helpline. We offer confidential advice to all our customers, so whether you have needed time off work to recover from frostbite or have suffered life-changing injuries, we can help you. There’s no obligation to proceed with a claim, and all our lawyers work on a 100% no win, no fee* basis, so you don’t even need to worry about upfront fees.

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