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Frostbite on Toes

Areas Furthest from the Heart Most Likely to Get Frostbite


Updated January 11, 2010

Frostbitten toes

Frostbitten toes of a Chinese herdsman after a severe blizzard in northwest China in 2006. Temperatures during the storm were as low as 45 degrees below zero.

Photo by China Photos/Getty Images

The body is like a car motor. We burn fuel (sugar) mixed with oxygen to create energy. And just like a motor -- we get hot.

Your body is hotter deep in its core, near the heart. One of the benefits of your heart pushing blood around is to distribute that heat throughout your whole body.

As you might imagine, the further blood gets from the heart the cooler it gets. That's why your hands, toes and nose always seem to get cold first -- they're not as hot-blooded as the rest of you.

When the environment gets really cold, like a blizzard in northwest China in 2006 that dropped to 45 degrees below zero, it's those areas far from the heart that are the hardest hit. Frostbite is much more common where blood doesn't flow as fast or as hot.

With the proper precautions, you can avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Treating frostbite is a delicate process and should only be attempted outside a hospital if no other option is available.

Have a frostbite picture you'd like to share? Tell us about your experience, see other readers' frostbite injuries and submit your own frostbite picture.

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