When the temperature dips below freezing, it’s critical to protect your skin from cold-weather health risks. Frostbite occurs when the skin – and sometimes the tissue beneath the skin – freezes due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Depending on how long and how frozen the tissue, frostbite can result in severe, sometimes permanent, damage.
Recognize the symptoms. To detect frostbite early, when it’s most treatable, it’s important to recognize the symptoms. The first signs of frostbite include redness and a stinging, burning, throbbing, or prickling sensation followed by numbness. If this occurs, head indoors immediately.
If you experience symptoms of frostbite, try to gradually bring feeling back into the body. Never rub frostbitten skin or submerge your hands or feet directly into hot water; use warm water or a warm washcloth instead. If you do not feel sensation returning to your body, or if the skin begins to turn gray, go to an emergency room immediately.