Frostbite or Frostnip – Do you Know the Difference?

Outdoor Kids

Submitted by Melissa Edge of

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Moab, Utah the temperatures have been freeeeezing. Actually, beyond freezing. We have been in the single digits during the day and below zero at night for the past couple weeks.

Was I complaining about being too hot over the summer? I take it back. I would love for some warmer temperatures.

Because the temperatures during the winter can be brutal it’s important to know about Frostbite and Frostnip and how to protect your tykes from such injuries.

Do you know the difference?

frostnip-picFrostbite is actually frozen body tissue (Yuck!) It can be the first layer of skin (superficial frostbite) or can be frozen tissue all the way down to the muscle and bone. (deep frostbite) Signs of frostbite are white, hard, waxy skin that’s numb and has a persistent burning sensation. Blistering can . Extreme cases (deep frostbite) can have a blue appearance.  Immediate medical attention is required for frostbite.

Frostnip is an earlier and milder case of frostbite. Usually the ears, cheeks, nose, fingers and toes are affected. They will appear white and numb. To treat frostnip bring the child indoors, remove clothing and place affected areas in warm water (between 101 – 104 degrees)until the skin turns red. (Don’t let your tyke control the water temperature. Burning can occur.) Don’t try to warm the affected area with a heating blanket, blow dryer or space heater.

“Despite what you might think, frostbite is not about your body getting assaulted by cold,” Horowitz said. “Instead, it is about the loss of heat. Frostbite happens when your body can’t protect itself from this heat loss.” (Russ Horowitz, a pediatric emergency room physician at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.) Courtesy of Julie’s Health Club

Both injuries are avoidable and here is how…

Don’t go outside if temperatures are below freezing. If you do venture outdoors limit your time and make frequent trips inside to warm up.

Wind and humidity can shorten the time frostbite and frostnip occur.

Dress in layers.tyke sliding in snow

Dress your tyke in appropriate clothing that has wicking, warmth and protective properties.

Keep your tyke dry and change any wet clothing immediately.

Babies are more susceptible to frostbite and frostnip because they have a higher body surface area with little fat under their skin and they can not shiver, which helps your body create heat.

Fingers and toes are usually the body parts that succumb to frostbite or frostnip first. Having suitable gloves/mittens will help avoid these injuries. It is key to check your tykes fingers and toes every 15-20 minutes while outside to make sure they are staying warm.

Have you ever had frostnip or frostbite? Has your tyke?

Last modified: June 20, 2013

One Response to :
Frostbite or Frostnip – Do you Know the Difference?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *