Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Frostbite

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FROSTBITE, the freezing of any portion of the body by exposure to a high degree of cold. The parts of the body most exposed to the serious consequence of frostbite are those farthest from the seat of circulation, and the most exposed to a great degree of cold. These are, the toes and feet, fingers, ears, nose, and the cheeks below the eye. The effect of intense cold is, in the first place, to deaden the sensibility of the part most exposed, which it does by contracting the vessels and driving the blood from the surface; when the part, losing its healthy vitality, is unable to resist the specific influence of the surrounding cold, and quickly falls a prey to the potency of the frost, and, in a short time, a partial gives way to an absolute death, or mortification of the member or organ. The treatment of frostbite consists in coaxing back by degrees the vitality of the part; this is most prudently effected by friction, at first with snow, then with water at ordinary temperature, no warmth being applied for some time.