Frostbite: The Most Common Freezing Injury

Frostbite is an injury wherein there is damage to the skin and its underlying tissues caused by extremely cold temperatures. The most often affected areas of the body are the extremities (e.g. fingers and toes) and exposed skin (nose, cheeks, ears and chin), with the latter being the most vulnerable to frostbite. Although it is also worthy to note that frostbite may occur even on skin covered by gloves and other protective clothing. The first stage of frostbite is frostnip. It is considered mild and does not lead to permanent damage to the skin. Other stages of frostbite will require medical help as damage may not be superficial only but may even affect the underlying tissues, muscles and bones. Sever frostbite may lead to complications, such as infection and nerve damage. When frostbite affects the blood vessels, damage is permanent and gangrene may occur. Hence, amputation of the affected area will be required. Frostbite is the most common freezing injury. Risk Factors of Frostbite When the skin is exposed to very cold temperatures, frostbite occurs. The following conditions/ lifestyle factors may increase a person’s likelihood of developing frostbite: Poor blood circulation in the legs Smoking Diabetes Raynaud’s Phenomenon, a condition characterized by intermittent ischemia of the fingers and toes of both sides, and sometimes ears and nose in cold temperatures Certain medications, such as beta blockers Symptoms of Frostbite Frostbite symptoms are usually evident. These include: Pins and needles sensation in the affected body part, which is succeeded by numbness Cold, hard and pale skin after it has been bare and uncovered for a prolonged period of time Lack...

Cold Sores: Causes and First Aid

Cold sores, sometimes referred to as fever blisters, are small red blisters that are found on the face. These fluid filled blisters often appear in multiples and patched over one area of the face, usually on or around the lips. Generally, cold sores pop open after a few days resulting to the leakage of clear fluid and a scab that is present only for a few days. The normal period for healing is usually a few days to two weeks. Although infrequent, the most common complication that can arise from cold sores is dehydration. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is different from other common viral infections because symptoms do not usually manifest immediately after the infection. It is usually triggered by something else, which will be discussed later. HSV has two strains, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is what causes the cold sores and is transmitted through oral secretions or presence of sores on the skin. Alternatively, Type 2 is what leads to genital herpes. Unfortunately, this infection remains for one’s lifetime. Causes of Cold Sores As previously mentioned, symptoms of HSV, such as cold sores remain dormant unless triggered by conditions such as: Viral infections such as those that cause the common cold and influenza, among others AIDS, chemotherapy medications or steroids, and other conditions that lead to immunosuppression Physical or emotional stress Fatigue Trauma Hormonal changes, such as during menstruation Weather exposure, such as sunlight and windy Associated Symptoms of Cold Sores Cold sores are symptoms of HSV Type 1. The following associated symptoms may also manifest: Collection of...

A First Aid Approach to Blisters

Blisters defined as a fluid collection beneath the epidermis, the top layer of the skin, but above the dermis, the layer underneath the epidermis.  A blister primarily forms because of friction or when two surfaces rub against each other, wherein one surface is the skin. The pressure and rubbing against the surface of the skin irritates the skin leading to a blister. Blisters are also called bleb or bulla. There is no need for medical care when it comes to managing blisters as they can be managed at home with proper first aid taught in First Aid Classes. However, when a blister is painful or makes walking difficult, it may be best to seek medical care. Causes of Blisters Blisters can be found anywhere in the body but are usually found in the hands and feet because these are the areas that are most prone to pressure and rubbing, which are the primary causes of getting a new blister. Wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes or even a new pair of shoes Using a hammer, a shovel or riding a bike Holding on to bars for a long period of time Lifting heavy weights Burns Reaction to drugs Contact with irritants, such as in cases of contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis Skin diseases, such as chicken pox and impetigo First Aid Treatment for Blisters It is not generally recommended to pop blisters are they may result to an infection. The skin over the fluid acts as a protection from bacteria. Therefore, if the blister is not causing much pain, keep it intact. If the blister is not too painful, keep...
First Aid Treatment: Avulsion Injury

First Aid Treatment: Avulsion Injury

An avulsion injury is a serious injury that occurs when a soft tissue is forcibly torn away, either partially or completely. The organ commonly affected by this kind of injury is the skin. Medically speaking, an avulsion injury usually refers to surface trauma where all skin layers have been torn away, thus uncovering its underlying structures, such as, subcutaneous tissue, muscle, tendons, or even bones. It is likened to an abrasion, except in its more severe form, as body parts can be partially or fully detached from the body. Avulsion injury is typically caused by trauma. Types of Avulsion Injury There are different types of avulsion injury. These types are the general locations where an avulsion injury can occur, which include: Skin (most common) Ear Eyelid Nail Tooth Nerve (brachial plexus) Periosteal Surgical Causes of Avulsion Injury There are many possible causes for an avulsion injury. These are usually by severe trauma to the skin: Human and animal bites Gunshot wounds Stab wounds Crush injuries Falls, especially those against jagged surfaces Severe burns Motor vehicular collisions and accidents, especially those involving dragging incidents Signs and Symptoms of Avulsion Injury The signs and symptoms of any avulsion injury is dependent on the location and the nature of the injury Minimal to severe bleeding Puncture wounds A body part may be partially or completely removed Mild to severe pain Crushed body tissue First Aid Management for Avulsion Injury First aid treatment and management will depend on the type of avulsion injury. However, the utmost priority is to reduce pain and discomfort of the patient. The following is the general recommendation in...