How To Diagnose and Treat Frostbite?

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Diagnosis Based on your signs and symptoms, the appearance of your skin, and a review of recent activities in which you were exposed to cold, frostbite can be diagnosed. To determine the severity of the frostbite and to check if bone or muscle is damaged, tests such as an X-ray, bone scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be conducted. Treatment Treatment for frostbite includes first-aid care and medical treatment. First-aid care includes:
  • Check for hypothermia.
  • Protect your skin from further exposure.
  • Get out of the cold.
  • Gently rewarm frostbitten areas.
  • If there's any chance the affected areas will freeze again, don't thaw them.
  • Take pain medicine.
  • Don't walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible.
  • Know what to expect as skin thaws.
Medical treatment includes:
  • Rewarming of the skin using a warm-water bath for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Oral pain medicine.
  • Protecting the injury.
  • Removal of damaged tissue (debridement).
  • Whirlpool therapy.
  • Infection-fighting drugs.
  • Clot-busting drugs.
  • Wound therapy.
  • Surgery in severe cases.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
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