Signs and Symptoms
- Cold skin that may itch, burn or feel like “pins and needles”
- Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
- Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases
Because of skin numbness, you may not realize you have frostbite until someone else points it out.
There are several stages to frostbite:
This is a mild form. Continued exposure leads to numbness in the affected area. As your skin warms, you may feel pain and tingling. Frostnip doesn’t cause permanent damage to skin.
Appears as reddened skin that turns white or pale. Your skin may begin to feel warm – a sign of serious skin involvement. If you treat with rewarming at this stage skin may appear molted as well you may notice stinging, burning and swelling. Blisters may appear hours later.
As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin, including tissue. Your skin turns white or bluish gray and you may experience numbness, losing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort in the affected areas. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form after 24 hours or more after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies. Loss of limbs is possible in severe cases.