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Cold Hands and Feet (cont.)

Cold Hands & Feet Treatment

Self-Care at Home

Home care should only be done under the instructions of a physician.

  • Home care for frostbite or immersion injury
    • Keep the area clean and dry
    • Elevate the area
    • Avoid refreezing
    • Protect the area from pressure or rubbing
    • Warming frostbite should not be done at home unless you have no alternative (such as impassable roads due to a snowstorm).
      • In that case, the water should be 99-104 F.
      • The body part should not touch the side or bottom of the sink or bathtub.
      • A hot tub is a good alternative, even if a little warmer than the ideal temperature.
  • Home care for frostnip
    • Warming frostnip can be done in the shower or sink or with a warm washcloth on the face or ears.
    • Only rewarm at home if you are sure it is just frostnip (small superficial area, skin still flexible). If you think you may have frostbite, rewarming is better performed in the emergency department.
    • When the part being warmed flushes (returns to normal color), you can remove it from the water. This generally takes less than a half hour.
    • Do not use other warming devices, such as an electric blanket, heating pad, or placing the affected part under running tap water. Your body part lacks feeling when it is frostnipped, and you may burn yourself without realizing it.
    • The area will heal completely but may remain sensitive for weeks after the injury.
  • Home care for other cold injuries generally includes avoidance of cold exposures and wearing adequate protective clothing when going outdoors in cold conditions.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2013

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