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Key Features

  • Frostnip: mild temporary form of cold-induced injury

  • Chilblains: inflammatory skin changes caused by exposure to cold without actual freezing of the tissues

Clinical Findings

  • Frostnip

    • Involved area has local paresthesias that completely resolve with passive external rewarming

  • Chilblains

    • Skin lesions may be red or purple papular lesions, which are painful or pruritic, with burning or paresthesias

    • May be associated with edema or blistering and aggravated by warmth

    • With continued exposure, ulcerative or hemorrhagic lesions may appear and progress to scarring, fibrosis, and atrophy

Diagnosis

  • Diagnoses usually made clinically after a detailed history of cold exposure

Treatment

  • Consists of elevating and passively externally rewarming the affected part

  • Rewarming can be done by

    • Placing cold fingers in the axilla

    • Removing footwear, drying feet, rewarming, and covering with adequate dry socks or other protective footwear

  • Avoid rubbing or massaging injured tissues

  • Avoid applying ice or heat

  • Protect area from trauma, secondary infection, and further cold exposure

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