Treat chilblains and frostbite

Treat chilblains and frostbite

Cool temperatures in winter can result in cold hands, feet or a cold nose, and the lower temperatures can also have more severe consequences. This includes tissue damage such as chilblains and frostbite. Read here how you can prevent and treat frostbite and chilblains.

Frostbite on hands and toes

Frostbite is swelling under the skin that is itchy and painful. They can be caused by cold and moisture and, in contrast to frostbite, which only occurs in severe cold, they occur even at temperatures around zero degrees. At such temperatures, however, frostbite only occurs with prolonged exposure to cold.

Parts of the body that are poorly supplied with blood are particularly often affected. This includes feet, hands and ears. People who have problems with their blood circulation have to struggle with frostbite. In addition, frostbite can also occur if the blood flow is artificially impeded, for example, by shoes laced too tightly.


treat frostbite

Frostbite usually heals independently, but healing can take up to three weeks. It is essential not to scratch the bumps during this time but to relieve the itching with an appropriate ointment. In addition, during the healing process, care should be taken to keep the affected body parts warm.

If the chilblains are particularly severe, drugs containing the active ingredient nifedipine can be used to treat them. Nifedipine lowers blood pressure by dilating smooth muscle vessels.

Treat frostbite with home remedies.

In addition to nifedipine, chilblains can be treated with home remedies: pour 1 litre of hot water over 100 grams of horsetail or oak bark, allow the brew to steep, and cool until the water is lukewarm. Then, gently bathe the affected areas in the liquid. In addition, finely chopped onions scalded with hot water are also suitable for bathing after they have cooled down.

A paste made of water and healing earth is also said to promote the healing process of chilblains: Apply the paste to the affected area and then wrap it in a bandage. Raw potato slices placed on the chilblains are also said to be able to relieve the symptoms.


Frostbite and degrees of frostbite

Frostbite is particularly common in dry, cold, and sub-zero temperatures. The cold forms ice crystals between the body cells, destroying the cells. Circulatory disorders can also occur as the erythrocytes clump together. This can result in tissue death.

Typical symptoms of frostbite are pale skin, a feeling of cold and stabbing pains in the affected limbs. Over time, the frozen limbs become numb in the case of particularly severe frostbite, and white, complex areas of skin form, which turn black after thawing. Alternatively, blood blisters can form, which then develop into ulcers.

In general, a distinction is made between frostbite, first, second, third and fourth degree:

  • First-degree frostbite: The skin is red, and the affected limbs feel numb.
  • Second-degree Frostbite: Severe blistering occurs on the skin.
  • Third degree frostbite:  Skin tissue dies. The dead, black tissue must be removed as soon as possible.
  • Fourth-degree frostbite: Frostbite affects all layers of tissue. The affected body part had to be amputated.

treat frostbite

If slight frostbite occurs, the affected area should be warmed up slowly. For example, your body heat is best suited for this by covering frostbite on your face with your hands. Alternatively, the frozen areas of skin can be slowly thawed in water at body temperature (37 degrees).

Under no circumstances should hot water be used to treat frostbite, or should the skin areas come into contact with a hot heater. Massaging the frozen areas also has a harmful effect.

If in doubt, you should always consult a doctor. He can give tips for further treatment and – if necessary – prescribe an ointment to stimulate circulation. In the case of severe frostbite, you should always consult a doctor immediately!

Prevent frostbite and frostbite.

With a few simple tips, you can prevent chilblains and frostbite:

  1. Wear clothing appropriate to the temperatures. Pay special attention to a warm hat, gloves and thick wool socks if you will be outdoors for a long time.
  2. If you do sports in the fresh air, you should quickly return to the warm place afterwards. When you sweat, cold evaporation occurs on the skin.
  3. Protect your facial skin with a thick layer of fat or a special cold cream.


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