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Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause the skin and underlying tissue to freeze, resulting in frostbite. The areas of your body most at risk are extremities: fingers, toes, cheeks, chin, nose and ears. Symptoms of frostbite include skin that appears white or grayish-yellow; skin that is very cold and feels hard or waxy; skin that itches, burns or feels numb; and in severe cases, skin that blisters.

Since frostbite causes numbness, you may not be aware of it as it’s happening. Dress warmly in cold weather, keep extremities covered, limit exposure to cold temperatures, and if you experience the above symptoms, take action immediately:
  • If you’re outside, cover the affected areas
  • Don’t rub the affected areas, and never rub snow on frostbitten skin
  • Get out of the cold as soon as possible
  • Remove cold, wet clothing
  • Gradually warm the affected areas
    • Feet or hands can be placed in warm – not hot – water. The temperature of the water should feel comfortably warm on unaffected areas of the body.
    • Wrap other affected areas in warm blankets.
Don’t use sources of direct heat, such as heat lamps or heating pads, as they may cause burns on numb skin. If numbness or pain remains or blisters develop, seek medical help as soon as possible.

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