It’s also extremely painful, and recovery or amputation depends on the degree of frostbite damage.
- Superficial frostbite - Superficial frostbite is comparable to a first or second degree burn. No or very little tissue loss is expected. This means that amputation is not necessary, however there may still be damage that requires time to heal. These areas are pink or red in color with blisters.
- Deep frostbite - Deep frostbite is more like a third degree burn and there will most likely be tissue death and need for amputation. This is seen as purple or black. This tissue will not recover.
Of course, to determine the class of frostbite, you must thaw the frostbite area...exactly when and how should one do this in the backcountry far away from help? There are definitely times when you should thaw, and when you shouldn’t thaw. And there are different but very particular methods to use when thawing frostbite. Learn more about frostbite thawing and treatment here.
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