How to Treat Minor Frostbite

by Jennifer Smith ; Updated August 14, 2017

Frostbite, which can be extremely dangerous, happens when the skin and tissue underneath freezes. Symptoms include numbness and tingling. The skin may also turn pale and hard. If you are unable to seek medical attention immediately, take steps to relieve the symptoms. As soon as possible, consult a physician for further help.

Get out of the cold as soon as possible. Apply a warm blanket to the area affected by the minor frostbite.

Fill a small tub with warm water -- the water temperature should not exceed 104 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently place the affected area in the water and soak for no more than 15 to 30 minutes. Briefly remove the frostbitten area from the water if the warmth becomes painful.

Wet a washcloth with room temperature water. Place the cloth on the affected area for 15 to 30 minutes. Avoid rubbing or wiping the area. Watch for the formation of blisters or skin lesions.

Contact a physician as soon as possible. Note any redness, tears or pain and report it at your appointment.


  • To prevent frostbite in cold weather, wear layers of clothing and pay particular attention to the ears, feet, face and hands.

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About the Author

Jennifer Smith has been writing professionally since 2000. She has written and published several articles on various websites including FITDAY and HealthNews and worked with start-up companies to establish content for their websites. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with concentrations in English and creative writing from Bowling Green State University.