Fact or Fiction: Frostbite
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About This Quiz
The word 'frostbite' probably brings to mind images of Himalayan mountain climbers with icy beards and blackened fingertips. This quiz will help you recognize the symptoms and give you some tips on what to do if you're ever stricken with frostbite.
When you have frostbite, ice crystals form in your skin cells.
almost fact: Your skin gets extremely cold, but it doesn't actually freeze.
Your skin does freeze when you have frostbite, so yes, that means ice crystals are forming in your skin cells.
The first stage of frostbite is called frostnip.
almost fact: The first stage is called frostpinch.
Frostnip it is. Your skin will be irritated but not permanently damaged.
One of the first signs of frostbite is a white outline around your mouth.
almost fact: Your lips turn purple first.
Tingling in the extremities is one of your first danger signs.
If you're feeling tingling in your extremities, your skin is also probably starting to lose its pigmentation.
almost fact: The skin turns red in the initial stages of frostbite.
Your skin will turn red first.
After your skin becomes red, it will start turning white.
almost fact: It will turn red, then start cracking, before it fades to white.
That's right -- after your skin becomes red, it will start turning white.
If you're still out in the elements after your skin turns white, you'll notice that your fingernails are turning yellow.
almost fact: Your fingernails will actually start to fall off.
Neither fingernail scenario is correct. If your skin has turned white, it will soon start becoming hard and waxy.
You should never try to warm frostbitten skin by putting it in hot water.
almost fact: You should use hot water for a minor case, but not if you're severely frostbitten.
Plunging your damaged skin into hot water would cause even more harm. The best method is to use a bath of water that's 100 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you're unable to get to shelter, the best thing you can do is start rubbing your skin as vigorously as possible.
almost fact: Just rub your hands together to create friction and then put them over your ears.
Nope, rubbing of any type will also cause even more damage.
If you can, try to put gauze or cloth between your fingers and toes to prevent them from sticking together.
almost fact: Take care to use only natural fibers. Synthetics will make things even worse.
Any kind of clean material you can put between your digits will help.
Whatever you do, don't remove any of your clothes, even if they're wet.
almost fact: You should remove any clothing that's restricting blood flow.
Maintaining blood flow is of utmost importance, so even if it seems wrong to take off clothing when you're freezing, just do it.
Even if you think there's a chance of your skin refreezing, you should try to thaw it out.
almost fact: You should try to warm up only if you have a very mild case.
You'll cause even more damage if you thaw out and then refreeze, so resist the temptation if there's any chance it might not last.
Severe frostbite can penetrate all the way through to the bone.
almost fact: It can only go as far as muscles.
Yes -- in the most severe frostbite cases, the damage goes all the way to the bone.
If you have severe frostbite and are able to warm your skin, it will form a blister that will turn black and harden into a shell.
almost fact: This is what happens when you have superficial frostbite.
This certainly sounds severe, but it's actually what happens with superficial frostbite. If the damage isn't too bad, the shell eventually falls off to reveal new skin underneath.
The blister will show up immediately after you rewarm your skin.
almost fact: It will probably take a couple of hours for the blister to appear.
That lovely fluid-filled blister will most likely appear 24 to 36 hours after you've warmed up.
Frostbite occurs most often in young children and the elderly.
almost fact: It's actually middle-aged people who get it most.
The young and elderly are probably most vulnerable to frostbite, but most cases occur in people aged 30 to 49, just because they're the ones who are most out in the elements.
Gloves offer more protection against frostbite than mittens do.
almost fact: It's the other way around.
Mittens are better because your fingers aren't separated and can warm each other.
Smoking increases the risk for frostbite because it decreases lung capacity.
almost fact: Smokers are more susceptible to frostbite because their immune systems are compromised.
Smokers are more at risk for frostbite, but it's because smoking constricts blood vessels.
You can get a fever from frostbite.
almost fact: A fever usually occurs only if you've also contracted pneumonia.
It sounds strange that your body temperature could rise when your skin is freezing, but a fever is a sign of severe frostbite.
One case of frostbite increases your risk of developing it again.
almost fact: That';s true only if you had a very severe case.
If you've ever had frostbite, you're now more vulnerable to another case.
A man who lost both legs to frostbite climbed K2 in 2006.
almost fact: He made it to the summit of Mount Everest.
Mark Inglis had both legs amputated below the knee after being stranded on New Zealand's Mount Cook in 1982. Twenty-four years later, he climbed Everest.
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