Warning, the following section includes graphic pictures of injury.
Frostbite is simply the formation of ice crystals within cells. It can only occur in below-freezing temperatures although those freezing temperatures can be highly localized, as in my case. Frostbite mainly affects the extremities and exposed skin like hands, faces, and feet. This is a thermal injury and, with minor variation, will resemble and be treated like a burn.
Fortunately, the day was going to be warm and I was able to begin treatment immediately.
The astute reader will notice that both pictures above show blistered skin. The day of the injury, both sites were charcoal-gray surrounded by inflamed red and the skin blistered after about an hour.
In the olden days, the treatment of frostbite was quite barbaric. The affected limb would simply be amputated with no attempt to save it. Nowadays we know that even cases of deep frostbite, when thawed safely, can see full recovery.
|Not as bad as it looks.|
I know of one case where a man had deep frostbite on his foot. This individual was hunting in the backcountry with a group. Because of the high chance of refreezing before he could reach definitive medical care, he left the foot frozen. He put on a wet sock and was driven to the hospital with his foot sticking out the passenger window. The doctors were able to recover his entire foot.
All pictures copyright of the author, released under Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike license terms.