- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Frostbite
Rapid rewarming in a warm (100°F to 110°F) water bath is the treatment of choice. Slow rewarming may cause more tissue damage.
If you are stranded with frostbite and unable to get medical help:
- Try to get to a warm location. Wrap yourself in blankets.
- Do not put snow or hot water on the injured area.
- Do not rub affected areas.
- Tuck your hands into your armpits to try to rewarm them.
- If it's available, use warm water (at about 105°F [40°C]) to rewarm your frostbitten area.
- Avoid refreezing the affected area. This can result in more severe injury.
- Walking on frozen feet and toes can cause damage. It may be more important to find shelter.
- Drink warm liquids.
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives.
- Cover the injured area with a clean cloth until you can get medical help.
- Rewarming can be intensely painful. To relieve pain take:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
If you're able to get medical assistance, treatment may include moving you to a warm place and wrapping you in blankets. The injured body part may be soaked in warm (not hot) water.
Other treatments may include:
- Opening and emptying blisters.
- Taking antibiotics.
- Taking pain medication.
- Keeping the injured body part elevated above your heart.
- Getting a tetanus booster shot.
- Receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This is a special chamber under greater pressure than normal. It will help with blood flow and tissue repair.
- Amputation of all or part of the affected body part. This may be necessary in severe frostbite cases.
If you are diagnosed with frostbite, follow your doctor's instructions.