Signs, Symptoms & Treatment: Frostbite & Hypothermia

tempfirstaidBlog, First Aid

Woman warming hands


Exposure to below-freezing temperatures causes frostbite. Frostbite can affect any area of the skin, however is most common in hands, feet, face and ears. It is important to understand the symptoms of frostbite to prevent this serious condition from progressing.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Aching pain
  • Numbness
  • Skin feels hard and waxy
  • Skin is white and/or gray-yellowish in colour


If you are without immediate medical attention and believed you are dealing with frostbite call a doctor right away.

  • Begin by finding shelter, ideally indoors
  • Do not attempt to thaw the frostbite as this can cause permanent damage
  • Remove all wet clothing
  • Do not rub frostbitten areas
  • Do not use dry heat, ex. fire or hot pack
  • Do not break any blisters
  • Warm frostbitten parts in warm water for 30 minutes
  • Place cotton balls in between frostbitten toes and fingers once they have been warmed
  • Loosely wrap warmed areas with bandages to prevent re-freezing
  • If pain is immense, take ibuprofen for relief


Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. The body loses heat through radiation, direct contact and wind in exposure in cold-weather conditions or cold water. Prolonged exposure to any environment colder than your body will lead to hypothermia if you are not properly prepared. Preparation includes checking environmental conditions beforehand and dressing appropriately.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slight confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate


  • If possible move inside slowly
  • Remove all wet clothing
  • Warm the person’s trunk prior to warming extremities*
  • Warm the body by wrapping it in blankets
  • Do not attempt to warm the body through warm water
  • If warming through hot packs, wrap them in fabric rather than applying directly to skin
  • Give non-caffeinated warm fluids to drink
  • Begin CPR is necessary

*Warming the extremities first can cause shock

Stay safe and stay warm this winter. For more tips on how to be prepared this winter subscribe to our company blog or check back weekly for new posts.

Life is Precious. Be Prepared.