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The Difference Between Frostbite and Frostnip

Photographing in Fog - Glacier National Park

Back in 2005 Bedge and I were making our way to Granite Park Chalet on the Highline trail in Glacier National Park when a storm rolled in and the temperature dropped 30 degrees. We took our time photographing the wildflowers peeking through the fog until we got too cold, and then quickly made our way to the chalet. I didn’t packed gloves for the day hike, so by the time we reached the chalet my fingers were very cold. I didn’t realize how cold my fingers were until they started warming up and I had a burning sensation. We warmed up in the chalet with some delicious hot chocolate before finishing our hike. From that day on I’ve had issues with my finger tips going numb in the cold. Even mildly cold temperatures affect them now.

Cold temperatures have arrived and in Moab it’s 20 degrees in the morning. You’ll find me bundled up from head to toe while J-Man thinks it’s sweatshirt weather. I have to force him to wear a coat most times and trying to get a him (6 years old) to understand why can be difficult.

Here is some information on Frostbite and Frostnip so you can protect yourself and your child.

 

The Difference Between Frostbite and Frostnip

 

Frostbite is actually frozen body tissue (Yikes!) It can be the first layer of skin (superficial frostbite) or can be frozen tissue all the way down to the muscle and bone. (deep frostbite) Signs of frostbite are white, hard, waxy skin that’s numb and has a persistent burning sensation. Blistering can . Extreme cases (deep frostbite) can have a blue appearance. Immediate medical attention is required for frostbite.

frostbite

Frostnip is an earlier and milder case of frostbite. Usually the ears, cheeks, nose, fingers and toes are affected. They will appear white and numb. To treat frostnip bring the child indoors, remove clothing and place affected areas in warm water (between 101 – 104 degrees)until the skin turns red. (Don’t let your tyke control the water temperature. Burning can occur.) Don’t try to warm the affected area with a heating blanket, blow dryer or space heater.

 

 

“Despite what you might think, frostbite is not about your body getting assaulted by cold,” Horowitz said. “Instead, it is about the loss of heat. Frostbite happens when your body can’t protect itself from this heat loss.” (Russ Horowitz, a pediatric emergency room physician at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. courtesy of Julie’s Health Club)

Both injuries are avoidable and here is how…

Don’t go outside if temperatures are below freezing. If you do venture outdoors limit your time and make frequent trips inside to warm up.

Wind and humidity can shorten the time frostbite and frostnip occur.

Dress in layers.

Dress your child in appropriate clothing that has wicking, warmth and protective properties.

Keep your child dry and change any wet clothing immediately.

Babies are more susceptible to frostbite and frostnip because they have a higher body surface area with little fat under their skin and they can not shiver, which helps your body create heat.

 

Have you ever had frostnip or frostbite? Has your child?

 

 

Frostnip hoto courtesy of Herbal Granny. Frostbite photo courtesy of medicinenet.com

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