Why frostbite limbs cannot be dramatically warmed

Frostbite of the hands and feet is not uncommon in the Russian winter. The question is in his degree. If the limbs are severely frostbitten, they cannot be immersed in hot water. Why? And then what to do?

Frostbite of the extremities in winter in Russia is not uncommon. In this case, you must immediately seek qualified medical help. While waiting for an ambulance, it is categorically impossible to sharply warm a frostbitten limb. Why? We will tell in our material

Frostbite is damage to limbs from exposure to low temperatures. This condition is dangerous for any degree of severity, therefore, for any signs of malaise, discomfort, or pain after hypothermia, you should consult a doctor. This article is for informational purposes only.

There are four degrees of frostbite. On the first, the skin turns red, sensitivity is lost and itching and pain appear. At the second stage, these symptoms become more pronounced, and the appearance of blisters filled with clear liquid is added to them. If, after warming, frostbite of the 1st degree disappears in about a week, then at the 2nd stage it takes twice as long to heal.

The third and fourth stages are characterized by necrosis – cell death – of the skin. After healing, scars form on the frostbitten limb. With severe tissue damage, amputation or other surgical procedures may be required. At any stage of frostbite, qualified medical attention is needed. However, it is also important to properly provide first aid to the victim, until the ambulance arrives at the scene.

The most important thing is to take the victim to a warm room and remove from him everything that can somehow cool the injured limb or hinder its blood supply. You need to warm the limb very slowly, but you cannot rub the skin – this will only damage the tissues. Doctors recommend applying a gauze bandage with a layer of cotton wool to the limb to limit the outflow of heat from it. The limb must be fixed with a plank or piece of plywood. It is recommended to warm the victims only with hot drinks.

It is impossible to quickly warm the injured limbs – this will only worsen the course of frostbite. It’s all about the sharp temperature drop – in the frostbitten tissues, the mechanisms of thermoregulation and the permeability of the vessels are disturbed. With a sharp heating, the vessels begin to expand sharply and can be damaged, since the blood flow is disturbed in them and a decrease in mechanical properties is observed. In addition, with deep frostbite in this way, only the outer skin can be warmed, and the inner ones will remain cold, which will lead to disastrous consequences. In order for the limb to warm up, it is first necessary to restore blood flow in the vessels. This is done by generally warming the body.

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