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How To Treat Frostbite In Kids

child in the snow

With temperatures below freezing in many parts of the country, many parents worry that their children might come home with frostbite after spending too much time in the cold. Frostbite happens more often than people realize, with an average of 1,300 cases per year.

There are several signs to look out for when it comes to frostbite and frostnip symptoms. They include cold skin, prickling feet, numbness, or red, white or grayish-yellow skin.

As far as treating frostbite, there are several things you can do.

First, gently remove any clothing covering the infected area. Put your child in dry, warm clothing and slowly warm up the area by gently covering it with your hand.

Next, use warm water to slowly warm affected body parts. Make sure that the temperature is not too hot (or about 104 degrees Fahrenheit). If your child’s fingers are frostbitten, here’s a simple trick you can do: place them in his or her opposite armpit to warm them up.

Once your child warms up, the good news is that frostnip generally reverses itself without any long-term consequences. According to Caring For Kids, the recovery time for a frostbite injury depends on the extent of tissue injury and whether or not there are any subsequent complications, such as infection. In some cases it might take up to three months before it is possible to determine the extent of tissue damage, although it's rare for any long-term damage to occur.

As far as limiting your child’s chances of getting frostbite, make sure they are not spending too much time outside and especially if the temperature is below freezing. Spending short intervals outside and having your child come home to warm up throughout the day is best. Always make sure that you dress them in several layers of loose, warm clothing. Have them wear a hat or headband that fully covers their ears along with mittens rather than gloves. It’s also very important that they wear socks and sock liners that fit well.

For extreme situations, definitely call emergency services or take your child to the nearest hospital. If you have any additional questions of concerns, consult a trusted doctor or health care professional.

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