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Severe Frostbite on Fingers

Fresh Blisters Show Early Severe Frostbite


Updated October 29, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Severe Frostbite
(c) Winky from flickr
Early frostbite can be nearly indistinguishable from a burn. The damage to skin causes almost identical swelling and blisters at first. Indeed, as it heals, frostbite can cause the skin to crack and peel just like a burn does.

Note the redness and swelling on this woman's fingers. Her knuckles show the most damage, which is because joints have less muscle and more bone tissue. (Blood flowing through muscle helps it stay warm.) Fingers already don't have as much blood flow because they're so far from the heart, but around the joints, blood flow is even less robust.

Although the blisters on the knuckles are obvious, it's possible to see how swollen her fingers are by looking at her ring. The ring is very tight, indicating the finger is much larger than usual.

This case of frostbite was severe. This woman reportedly lost parts of some of her fingers from this injury. It's a good example of the early look of severe frostbite.

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.

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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