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Thread: Why not thaw out frostbitten flesh?

  1. #1

    Default Why not thaw out frostbitten flesh?

    I hear this alot... it's bad to thaw out/warm up frostbitten flesh. Why?

  2. #2
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks Area

    Default It can cause more damage.

    If you are in the bush and get frostbite, it will do less damage if you leave it frozen until you can receive first aid. The frozen flesh will start to decay once it has thawed.

    First aid for frostbite

    *Avoid rubbing the area, especially with snow, which will worsen the
    *Don't walk on frostbitten feet or use a frostbitten area. If you
    must walk, the feet will suffer less damage if left frozen and padded. If
    feet are thawed, have someone carry you if possible.
    *Avoid thawing an area if you are far from help or if there is a
    chance of re-freezing, as this will cause more damage.

    If you are in a permanent shelter and can thaw the frostbitten area:

    * Immerse area for 20-45 minutes in tepid (98 - 104 degree
    F) water. Avoid using hot water, which may burn the area, causing more
    damage. As the area thaws it will turn pink or bright red and sensation
    may return.
    * Do not put salves or creams on the frostbite.
    * Protect the frostbite area from re-freezing with
    towels and blankets and seek medical attention.


  3. #3
    Member junkak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Frostbite

    If I remember correctly from my medical days, experts recommend not thawing out any frostbitten part in the field if there is ANY risk of re-freezing.

    The same experts also state your appendage should be thawed/treated ASAP which will help ensure a better recovery with less nerve damage / necrotic tissue.

    It ends up being a judgment call based on your surroundings / weather.

    Bad = Keeping a frostbitten member frozen.
    Worse = Thawing the frostbite then having it re-freeze.


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