Show Summary Details
Page of



Sujatha Tadiparth

and Kayvan Shokrollahi

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 20 October 2020

Frostbite is the damage sustained by tissues when exposed to temperatures below their freezing point (<0°C). Extremities such as fingers, toes, nose and ears are most commonly affected. A number of extrinsic and intrinsic factors predispose to frostbite. The severity of frostbite can be classified into four degrees. Tissue injury occurs firstly, by direct cell damage and death from the formation of intracellular ice crystals and secondly, by vascular insufficiency and tissue ischaemia which result from vasoconstriction, endothelial injury and thromboembolism. Treatment is focused on gentle rewarming in a warm circulating bath (40–41°C). Tissues should be allowed to demarcate with rewarming and then surgical debridement or amputation performed if necrotic tissue is present. Tissue plasminogen activator can lead to rapid clearance of vascular thromboses, restore arterial perfusion and improve tissue salvage. Long-term sequelae can result including, cold hypersensitivity, sensory deficits, chronic pain, heterotropic calcification, and pigmentary changes.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.