How to Treat Frost Burn

Provide first aid at the first sign of frostbite to protect the skin from permanent damage.
Provide first aid at the first sign of frostbite to protect the skin from permanent damage. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Your skin is susceptible to freezing when left uncovered during cold weather, and temporarily freezes if exposed for a prolonged period of extreme conditions. Commonly known as frostbite, the skin is numb, hard and often turns a grayish-yellow, red or pale in color. The stages of frostbite include frostnip, superficial frostbite and severe frostbite, which increases the amount of damage caused to your tissue as the frostbite progresses. While the first two stages are treatable with at-home treatment, severe frostbite requires immediate medical attention to prevent permanent tissue damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Over-the-counter ibuprofen
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Blanket

Take off wet clothing. Wet, cold clothing worsens the effect of frostbite as it touches your skin and lowers your body's temperature.

Run a bath filled with warm water, and sit in the tub for 20 to 30 minutes. Avoid using hot water, as the high levels of heat causes burns and can result in skin blisters. Maintain the warm water's temperature between 104 to 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit to warm the body and restore sensation to frostbitten skin, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Cover the frostbitten skin with aloe vera gel, which soothes the skin and reduces itching that commonly occurs when the sensation returns to the numb areas.

Take ibuprofen to reduce pain. Inflammation and pain occurs during mild cases of frostbite, and lingers while the body is warming up. Motrin IB, Advil and Addaprin are common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce frostbite pain, and are recommended by medical professionals to treat frostbite symptoms.

Cover your body in a blanket. A heavy blanket keeps your body heat from escaping, and aids in warming up frostbitten skin and limbs. Avoid direct heat sources, as you may not feel the intensity of the heat due to numbness. Heat sources such as heating pads or stoves cause burns on the skin and damages tissue.

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