Call your doctor if you suspect you have frostbite or hypothermia. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be told to go to an emergency room.
If you have time before your appointment, use the information below to get ready for your medical evaluation.
What you can do
- List any signs and symptoms you're experiencing and for how long. It will help your doctor to have as many details as possible about your cold exposure and to know if your signs and symptoms have changed or progressed.
- List your key medical information, including any other conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also list all medications you're taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
- Make a note of the date of your last tetanus shot. Frostbite increases risk of tetanus. If you haven't been vaccinated or if your last shot was more than 10 years ago, your doctor may recommend that you be vaccinated.
- List questions to ask your doctor. Being prepared will help you make the most of the time you have with your doctor.
For frostbite, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- What are my treatment options and the pros and cons for each?
- What results can I expect?
- What skin care routines do you recommend while the frostbite heals?
- What kind of follow-up, if any, should I expect?
- What changes in my skin should I look for?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that occur to you.
What you can do in the meantime
While you wait for your appointment, take appropriate self-care measures, such as:
Oct. 15, 2014
- Protecting the affected area from further cold
- Not walking on frostbitten feet
- Reducing pain with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others)
- Not breaking blisters that may develop
- 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.