Frostbite is the non-medical term for an area that, having been exposed to extreme cold, loses its circulation. Characteristically the area will be cold, firm, pale or streaked and, contrary to popular belief, painless. There is initial pain as the cold sets in but the nerves are numbed by the cold and pain only returns as the area is warmed. Left untreated, the tissues will die and gangrene will set in.
Individuals with poor circulation are more prone to frostbite, which may occur at higher temperatures than for the rest of the population. Smokers, those with diabetes and individuals using certain drugs such as beta-blockers may all have a greater predisposition.
Do not warm the area rapidly. Apply the affected area to a warm body part, ie place the hand in the groin or armpit only.
Commonsense prevails: cover the individual with blankets or coats and find shelter.
Administer warm but not hot drinks. 1 Administer painkillers if hospital is not available and use the homeopathic remedy Apis 30 every 15min as the affected part reheats. 1 Damaged skin and tissues may respond to the remedy Agaricus muscarius 30 four times a day for five days. ‘ Apply Arnica cream to the area of the injury and above to encourage circulation.