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posted by: LIT First Aid on: January 10, 2022

Image via Osman Rana


As temperatures dip, it’s important to take extra precautions when spending time outside. Whether you’re going for a winter walk or hitting the slopes, frostbite can come when you least expect it. For those that don’t know, frostbite is an injury that occurs when the skin and its underlying tissues freeze. The most mild form of frostbite is known as frostnip and it does not cause permanent damage to the skin. However, in its most severe form, frostbite can kill skin tissue, which may be extremely painful. To learn more about the signs and and symptoms of frostbite, including how to avoid it, keep reading.


The Most Common Symptoms of Frostbite

Frostbite most often occurs on the fingers, toes, cheeks, ears, nose, and chin. Exposed skin is more prone to frostbite, however, even skin that is protected by gloves or socks can still experience frostbite. As one of the most common symptoms of the injury is numbness, you may not realize you have frostbite until someone points it out or you see yourself in a mirror. To determine whether you have frostbite, it’s important to know the most common signs & symptoms:

  • Numbness in the affected area
  • Cold skin and a prickling sensation
  • Skin that appears hard or waxy
  • Skin that turns the following colours: red, white, bluish, purplish, greyish, yellow, or brown (the colour varies depending on the severity)
  • Stiffness of the joints or muscles
  • Blistering after rewarming (this is a symptom of severe frostbite)


How to Avoid Frostbite

  • Limit your time outside in cold weather
  • Wear a winter hat or headband that fully covers your ears
  • Wear well-insulated mittens rather than gloves
  • Wear fleece-lined socks or multiple pairs of socks
  • Pay attention to early signs of frostbite (numbness, prickling sensation) 

Keep yourself and others safe this winter by knowing the early signs of frostbite. We also recommend signing up for the L.I.T. First Aid and Lifeguard Training courses to learn important first aid skills and CPR that could save your life, in the event that you or a loved one suffers from frostbite this winter.

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