Symptoms and Signs of Frostbite

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/25/2019

Doctor's Notes on Frostbite

Frostbite refers to severe damage to tissues that is caused by prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures. It results from the formation of ice crystals within cells, rupturing the cells and leading to cell death. There are three stages of frostbite, frostnip (first degree injury), second, third, and fourth, which is the most severe form of frostbite.

Signs and symptoms of frostbite include pain in the affected area, numbness, burning, tingling, pale skin, and the development of clear blisters. Other associated symptoms of deep frostbite can include complete loss of sensation in the affected area, skin changes such as a pale, yellowish, bluish, gray, or mottled skin color; blood-filled blisters on the skin, and a firm, solid feel to the affected area.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.