Frostbite occurs when skin and underlying tissues freeze. The most common cause of frostbite is exposure to cold-weather conditions. But it can also be caused by direct contact with ice, freezing metals or very cold liquids.
Specific conditions that lead to frostbite include:
Oct. 15, 2014
- Wearing clothing that isn't suitable for the conditions you're in — for example, it doesn't protect against cold, windy or wet weather or it's too tight.
- Staying out in the cold and wind too long. Risk increases as air temperature falls below 5 F (minus 15 C), even with low wind speeds. In wind chill of minus 16.6 F (minus 27 C), frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes.
- Touching materials such as ice, cold packs or frozen metal.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=392. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Mechem CC, et al. Frostbite. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- AskMayoExpert. Frostbite. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Winter weather frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/faq.asp#frostbite. Accessed July 1, 2014.
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Frostbite. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://naturaldatabase.com. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- McIntosh SE, et al. Wilderness medical society practice guidelines for the prevention and treatment of frostbite. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. 2011;22:156.
- Bergeron MF, et al. International Olympic Committee consensus statement on thermoregulatory and altitude challenges for high-level athletes. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2012;46:770.
- Miller T. Preparing for cold weather exercise. Performance Training Journal. 2010;3:1.
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