Frostbite is, literally, frozen body tissue — usually the skin, but sometimes deeper tissue. It must be managed carefully to prevent permanent tissue damage.
The varying degrees of frostbite are based on how deep the tissue injury goes. Mild cases affect a superficial area of the skin, while the most severe cases can go all the way down to the muscle and bone. The areas most prone to frostbite are the head, face, ears, hands, and feet.
Kids are at greater risk for frostbite than adults, both because they lose heat from their skin more rapidly and because they're often reluctant to leave their winter fun to go inside and warm up.
Frostbite needs medical attention from a health care provider. It also can be associated with hypothermia, a serious medical condition that requires emergency medical care.
Frostnip is a milder form of injury. It usually affects areas of skin exposed to the cold, such as the cheeks, nose, ears, fingers, and toes, leaving them red and numb or tingly.
Frostnip can be treated at home and gets better with rewarming.
Frostbite is characterized by white, waxy skin that feels numb and hard. It requires immediate emergency medical attention. Frostbite can be associated with hypothermia, which is a serious medical emergency.
To help prevent frostbite in cold weather:
Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: January 2015
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
|American Red Cross The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and works to keep people safe every day. The website has information on first aid, safety, and more.|
|FEMA Winter Storms and Extreme Cold Information on dealing with severe winter weather, including driving tips and fact sheets.|
|First Aid: Frostbite Exposure to extreme cold can cause frostbite, a serious condition that requires emergency care. Here's what to do if your child has frostbite.|
|Winter Sports: Sledding, Skiing, Snowboarding, Skating You'll have more fun if you stay safe in the cold and snow. Find out how in this article for kids.|
|Safety Tips: Sledding Sledding is a lot of fun, but can also cause injuries, some of them pretty serious. To keep yourself safe while sledding, follow these safety tips.|
|Safety Tips: Sledding Sledding is a lot of fun, but can also cause injuries, some of them pretty serious. To keep your kids safe while sledding, make sure they follow these safety tips.|
|Getting Help: Know the Numbers The best time to prepare for an emergency is before one happens. Make sure your family knows emergency phone numbers - and make sure your kids know how to place a call for help.|
|How to Be Safe in Ice and Snow Winter is a fun time of year. But while you're out having fun, you have to know how to be safe. Check out our article for kids to learn how to stay safe in snow and cold weather.|
|Keeping Your Cool in the Cold and Snow Read this article to find out how to protect yourself from cold-weather hazards - from frostbite to carbon monoxide poisoning.|
|Cold, Ice, and Snow Safety In ice and snow, accidents can happen easily. Find out how to keep your family safe - and fit - while the weather is chilly.|
|Knowing Your Child's Medical History In an emergency, health care professionals will have many questions about a patient's medical history. It's easy to compile this information now, and it could save critical minutes later.|
|First-Aid Kit A well-stocked first-aid kit, kept in easy reach, is a necessity in every home. Learn where you should keep a kit and what to put in it.|
|Cold-Weather Sports Don't let the chill of winter turn you into a couch potato! Read this article to learn about some cool winter sports.|
|Cold-Weather Sports and Your Family Tired of being cooped up in the house because of the cold weather? Get out in the snow and try a new sport with your family this winter!|
|Safety Tips: Skiing Skiing is fun but also has some very real dangers. Make sure your kids follow these safety tips to learn how to stay safe on the slopes.|
|Safety Tips: Skiing There's a lot to love about skiing, but it can also present some very real dangers, from frostbite and sunburn to blown knees and head injuries. Follow these tips to stay safe on the slopes.|
|Safety Tips: Hockey As fun as it is, ice hockey carries a very real risk of injury. To keep your kids as safe as possible, follow these tips.|
|Safety Tips: Hockey As fun as it is, ice hockey carries a very real risk of injury. To find out how to stay as safe as possible, follow these tips.|
|Safety Tips: Snowboarding Snowboarding is a great way for kids to have fun and get exercise, but it has some very real dangers. These safety tips can help keep your kids safe on the slopes.|
|Safety Tips: Snowboarding Snowboarding is a great way to have fun, but it can also present some very real dangers. Follow these safety tips to learn how to stay safe on the slopes.|
|Word! Hypothermia Hypothermia is when the body gets so cold that it can't warm itself up again.|
|What You Need to Know in an Emergency In an emergency, it's hard to think clearly about your kids' health information. Here's what important medical information you should have handy, just in case.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.