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Nonfreezing Tissue Injuries


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
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What are nonfreezing tissue injuries?

Nonfreezing tissue injuries are skin injuries caused by the cold. If your skin gets so cold it freezes, it's called frostbite Frostbite Frostbite is an injury where a part of your body freezes. The frozen tissue dies and can't come back to life. Cold also can damage tissue without freezing it. This is called nonfreezing tissue... read more Frostbite . Common types of nonfreezing tissue injuries are:

  • Frostnip

  • Immersion foot (trench foot)

  • Chilblains


Frostnip is an injury in which your skin gets so cold that it turns numb, swollen, and red.

  • Treat frostnip by warming the area for a few minutes

  • The area will hurt and itch as it warms up

  • Sometimes, the area may be sensitive to cold for a long time after

Immersion foot (trench foot)

Immersion foot is an injury from being in wet, cold socks or shoes for several days. It's sometimes called trench foot.

  • Your foot gets pale, damp, swollen, numb, and cold

  • To treat immersion foot, gently warm, dry, and elevate your foot

  • Your foot will become red and painful as it warms, and you may get blisters

  • For weeks after, your foot may be very sensitive and sweaty

  • Doctors may give antibiotics to prevent infection

Prevent immersion foot by:

  • Wearing shoes and boots that fit well

  • Changing your socks daily

  • Keeping your feet dry


Chilblains are places on your skin where you get itching, pain, redness, or swelling from being out in dry cold weather.

  • Chilblains are uncommon but not serious

  • You get itching, pain, redness, and sometimes blisters, usually on your fingers or the fronts of your legs

  • Treat chilblains by staying out of the cold

  • Avoiding nicotine may help prevent chilblains

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