REBEL Core Cast 48.0 Frostbite

Take Home Points

  • Frostbite is a severe, localized cold-induced injury due to freezing and thawing of tissue.
  • We usually see these injuries affecting the ears, nose, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. Patients will complain of cold, numb or stiff sensations and discoloration of the skin.  
  • Critical ED treatment starts with rewarming in a warm, NOT HOT, water bath, analgesia and wound care.
  • More extensive treatments include blister debridement, tPA, prostacyclin analogues and fasciotomy.  Patients with severe frostbite will likely require multidisciplinary care with surgery and critical care so consider early consults.
  • And last, be sure to check the patients core temp and treat hypothermia complications, such as diuresis

REBEL Core Cast 48.0 – Frostbite

For More on This Topic Checkout:


  1. Cauchy E et al. Retrospective study of 70 cases of severe frostbite lesions: a proposed new classification scheme. Wilderness Environ Med. 2001 Winter. PMID: 11769921.
  2. Geng Q et al. Temperature limit values for touching cold surfaces with the fingertip. Ann Occup Hyg. 2006. PMID: 16777911.
  3. Grieve AW et al. A clinical review of the management of frostbite. J R Army Med Corps. 2011. PMID: 21465915.
  4. Handford C et al. Frostbite. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2017 May. PMID: 28411928.

Post Peer Reviewed By: Salim R. Rezaie, MD (Twitter: @srrezaie)

Shownotes Created By: Miguel Reyes, MD (Twitter: @miguel_reyesMD)

Cite this article as: Anand Swaminathan, "REBEL Core Cast 48.0 Frostbite", REBEL EM blog, January 27, 2021. Available at:
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Anand Swaminathan

Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at St. Joe's Regional Medical Center (Paterson, NJ)
REBEL EM Associate Editor and Author

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