Complications of frostbite can include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Increased risk of developing frostbite again
- Permanent numbness or nerve abnormalities in the affected area
- Changes in the cartilage between the joints (frostbite arthritis)
- Growth defects in children, if frostbite damages a bone's growth plate
- Gangrene — decay and death of tissue resulting from an interruption of blood flow to a certain area of your body
Cold exposure that's severe enough to cause frostbite can also cause hypothermia. When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs don't work correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia eventually leads to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death.
Oct. 07, 2011
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- Mechem CC. Frostbite. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Winter weather: Frostbite. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/frostbite.asp. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Frostbite. In: McPhee SJ, et al. Quick Answers to Medical Diagnosis and Therapy. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=3264952. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Winter weather FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/faq.asp#frostbite. Accessed Aug. 1, 2011.
- Hallam M, et al. Managing frostbite. British Medical Journal. 2010;341:1151.
- Imray C, et al. Cold damage to the extremities: Frostbite and nonfreezing cold injuries. Postgraduate Medicine Journal. 2009;85:481.
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