Freezing temperature and cold weather conditions can cause damage to the body tissues. Especially those parts of the body that are exposed to dry, freezing and windy weather are more vulnerable to tissue damage. Frostnip is a milder variety of frostbite, or you can say, it occurs before frostbite sets in. Frostnip can be reversed.
However, prolonged exposure to cold without taking steps to treat frostnip can lead to frostbite. In frostbite there is permanent damage of the tissues. Frostnip usually affects the nose, ears, chin, cheeks, tips of fingers and toes.The first hint of frostnip is numbness, followed by pale discoloration of the tissue involved.
Difference Between Frostbite And Frostnip
Frostnip is an injury to the skin due to cold weather. It is a precursor to frostbite. The symptoms of frostnip develop when the blood vessels (capillaries) get contracted due to exposure to extreme cold atmosphere. Extreme cold condition causes evaporation of moisture from the skin and this causes the blood vessels to contract. Cold wind accelerates the process leading to more damage.
Usually frostnip begins to develop when the atmospheric temperature drops below 15 degree Celsius.Frostnip can be said as the first stage of cold injury where skin temperature starts to drop. If you do not get out of the cold, frostnip will progress to frostbite. In frostbite tiny ice crystals form under the skin, during formation and thawing of this crystals, strong salt solution forms which damage the cells. This is the major differentiating point between frostnip and frostbite.
Signs And Symptoms Of Frostnip
Other than cold and freezing weather, frostnip can occur when handling cold liquid or metal. Poor circulation in the limbs worsens frostnip in fingertips and toes.
It is difficult to identify whether the symptoms are caused due to frostnip or frostbite. Frostnip is not a serious condition and if cured immediately, the damaged tissue reverses back to its original state.
- In the beginning of frostnip, skin of the fingertips and affected part appear white and waxy with a rubbery feeling. This happens due to contraction of the blood vessels below the skin. But in frostbite the affected part feels hard due to damage of the deeper tissues.
- Numbness is the second symptom as the nerves are affected due to cold. There is numbness of fingertips and toes and loss of sensation.
- Tingling and burning of the affected part.
- The frostnipped skin turns red and starts burning which is followed by severe pain.
Frostnip Remedies And Treatment At Home
- Getting out of the cold to a warmer place is the first step that you can do.
- Applying warmth directly is the best treatment for frostnip. Blow on your fingertips or on the toes if they have frostnip.
- If your nose is frostnipped, apply your warm hands to your nose. If your hands are freezing, put them in your armpits. You may feel tingling and burning when you do so initially, but there would not be a lasting injury.
- Warn some water when you reach home or where the facility is available. Strip the affected part of all the clothing and dip the part in warm water till the color changes to pink or red and becomes soft.
- You can also drink something warm, a warm coffee or tea is soothing during such times.
- Never massage the nipped area as it may do more harm than good.