Complications of frostbite include:

  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Increased risk of developing frostbite again
  • Long-term numbness 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
  • Infection
  • Tetanus
  • Gangrene — decay and death of tissue resulting from an interruption of blood flow to the affected area — which can result in amputation

Cold exposure that's severe enough to cause frostbite also can 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. 15, 2014

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