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Frostbite: Prevention and treatment

When the temperature dips below freezing, it’s critical to protect your skin from cold-weather health risks. Frostbite occurs when the skin – and sometimes the tissue beneath the skin – freezes due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Depending on how long and how frozen the tissue, frostbite can result in severe, sometimes permanent, damage.

To stay warm and prevent frostbite, follow these tips from dermatologists:

  • Dress in loose, light, comfortable layers
  • Protect your feet and toes
  • Protect your head
  • Protect your hands
  • Make sure snow cannot get inside of your boots or clothing
  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • Recognize the symptoms

If you experience symptoms of frostbite, try to gradually bring feeling back into the body. Never rub frostbitten skin or submerge your hands or feet directly into hot water; use warm water or a warm washcloth instead. If you do not feel sensation returning to your body, or if the skin begins to turn gray, go to an emergency room immediately.