Natural remedies for frostbite

People living in areas with an extremely cold climate might have experienced frostbite at one point in their lives. Frostbite is a nasty condition that occurs when the skin is exposed to temperatures way below its freezing point. Tissue hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency, is the reason behind frostbite. When the body endures extreme cold, it signals a survival mechanism that narrows blood vessels in the hands, feet, and other extremities to retain heat, which is vital for the function of internal organs. This results in the formation of ice crystals in the skin or under it. Frostbites are common in North American territories such as Alaska and Canada. Children are more susceptible to this condition because they lose body heat at a much faster rate compared with adults.

Natural remedies for frostbite

As serious as frostbite might be, your kitchen or garden can have just the right remedy to combat the condition. Here is a list of natural frostbite treatments:

  • Sage — The herb is known to counter the effects of frostbite. Boiling a teaspoonful of sage in a cup of water might prove beneficial in curing frostbite.
  • Aloe vera — The soothing effects of aloe vera gel helps ease frostbite and other skin conditions.
  • Rose hip –– Rose hip contains a large amount of vitamin C that is essential for skin health. Consuming one cup of rose hip tea once daily may help combat frostbite.
  • Cayenne pepper — Consuming cayenne pepper is proven to increase blood circulation and lessen infection-related pain.
  • Witch hazel — Applying witch hazel over the affected area may help improve symptoms and mitigate further infection.
  • Onion poultice — Using a cold poultice of mashed onion is a proven remedy against frostbite.
  • Ginger tea — Drinking about 200 ml of ginger tea once a day helps improve circulation, which in turn mitigates the effects of frostbite.
  • Other herbal teas — Chamomile and feverfew teas are excellent frostbite treatments. Peppermint tea is also considered as an imperative tonic against the condition.
  • Horsetail — Horsetail is rich in silica, which is essential in skin repair. (Related: These incredible plants were used by Native Americans to cure illness.)
  • Mullein flower — Mullein flower paste with a little olive oil can be applied to the affected areas of the skin.
  • Banana peel — Covering the affected skin with banana peel may help ease swelling.

Frostbite fast facts: Symptoms, stages and causes

Frostbite symptoms include numbness in the exposed area, pain and itchiness, or pricking sensation. More severe symptoms such as skin discoloration, skin hardening, blistering, and muscle and joint stiffness are also observed.

The onset of frostbite comes in three stages: Frostnip, superficial frostbite, and severe frostbite.

Frostnip is the first stage, which is characterized by skin coldness and redness. Continued exposure to cold induces numbness and pricking sensation. Pain and tingling sensation may be felt during thawing, but no permanent damage can be observed.

Superficial frostbite is characterized by skin discoloration, which may range from pale to white. Ice crystals may have formed during this stage, which results in swelling, burning sensation, and subsequent blistering days after receiving treatment.

Severe frostbite occurs when prolonged exposure to cold results to damage in all layers of the skin. Loss of sensation as well as muscle and joint dysfunction can be noted. Large blisters can be observed a day after, which then leads to skin discoloration. Hard and black skin is a result of tissue death due to severe frostbite.

Various external and internal factors cause frostbite.

Wind, for instance, increases cold sensation that further exacerbates hypothermia. Humidity also facilitates the evaporation of skin moisture. Direct contact to cold objects may also raise the risk of frostbites. Diabetes, dehydration, and circulatory conditions are among internal factors that increase the odds of suffering frostbites. Smoking, alcohol intake and previous injuries are also associated with frostbite onset.

It is always important to seek medical attention when experiencing frostbite symptoms.

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