Frostbite First Aid: Dos and Don'ts

What to do

It is strongly recommended to seek medical help as soon as possible because treatment is best done by a medical professional. This can decrease the risk of further damage and increase the survival of the affected part.

Apart from this, the following tips may also help you:

  • Get out of the cold to a warm place where both refreezing and any further heat loss can be avoided.
  • If there is any possibility of refreezing do not thaw the affected area. Refreezing often causes more serious and/or permanent damage. It is best to delay warming the area and get to a permanent shelter or the like.
  • Replace wet clothing with dry clothing to reduce further heat loss.
  • Place a dressing or clean cotton material in between any toes or fingers with frostbite to prevent friction rub.
  • Remove anything that may be constrictive now or when swelling occurs.
  • Have the frostbitten area re-warmed with moist heat. If this is not possible, then submerge the injury in water that is warm to touch.
  • Give pain relief. Anti-clotting type pain relievers are ideal such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen or similar.
    A warm drink can be given but with no alcohol or caffeine present.
  • Rest the injured areas and elevate above the heart to help reduce swelling.
    It is important to leave blisters intact as broken blisters have an increased risk of infection.


What not to do

  • Do not rub the area with hands or snow as this can cause further injury to the area.
  • Avoid a slow thaw either out in the open or travelling to medical help.
  • Not to use nicotine, marijuana or alcohol.

Keywords: first aid frostbite

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.