Frostbite occurs when the body is exposed to the cold for a prolonged period of time and the fluid in the body’s cells start to crystallize. The crystals impede the flow of blood to the cells and as a result, the tissue dies.
Extremities such as the feet, hands, ears and tip of the nose are affected first. “Once it hits a certain point, you have no alternative but to amputate,” plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon notes.
“If you’re outside and you get that tingling feeling in your arms or legs and think you have frostbite, putting your limbs in tepid, warm water is the best thing to do,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork advises.
• Dr. Travis explains the difference between frostbite and frostnip.