When you live in a cold country where the temperature drop far beyond zero degrees, or if you just love mountaineering experiences on windy ice fields, frostbites can be quite common. Frostbites occur as a result of cold damage to tissues, when extreme cold alters blood circulation. The affected areas are commonly the extremities, such as fingers, nose, toes, and ears. When the dermis is frozen, the skin becomes numb and less sensitive. For a first-degree frostbite, the skin usually becomes red and swollen. There are some natural treatments to help repair skin and tissue damage due to extreme cold. However, it depends on the severity of a frostbite. Did you know there is an old Norwegian remedy that consists in applying a cold mashed onion poultice on a frostbite? You may want to try some home remedies, but be aware that severe frostbite can cause damage to the skin, underlying tissues, muscles and bones. In some cases, medical attention is necessary so that further complications such as infection can be prevented.
How to improve blood circulation and speed healing?
Drink a warm drink (not hot) and avoid alcohol as it inhibits circulation. Adding some cayenne pepper can be helpful to improve blood circulation. Cayenne pepper in topical form has long been used traditionally in China and Japan to treat frostbite.
Consumption of herbal teas can be very beneficial against frostbite. Ginger tea is one of the most recommended herbal teas in order to improve blood circulation and alleviate pain.
It's also recommended to eat a well-balanced diet with proteins and minerals to help rebuild new tissues. In addition, foods rich in vitamin C promote healing. Consuming rose hip tea once a day can be very beneficial. Rose hip is rich in vitamin C and contains transeretinoic acids that contribute to revitalization and growth of skin cells.
Which herbs for frostbites?
Aloe Vera is one of the most effective herbal remedies when it comes to frostbite. It's soothing and helps tissue to regenerate. Aloe Vera gel may be applied at the frost bitten area several times a day.
Horsetail can also help rebuilding skin tissues because of its silica content. Silicic acids form collagen. Collagen is a protein that is vital to cellular regeneration of skin, connective tissue, bone and cartilage. A horsetail bath can also be very soothing.
Witch hazel (hamamelis Virginiana) can promote the recovery of frozen parts and prevent infection. Alcohol-free witch hazel may be applied on frostbite.
How to use witch hazel to treat skin conditions (Optiderma.com)
Which essential oils for frostbite?
Cypress essential oil is often used in a massage oil for circulation problems. This essential oil may be used for frostbite (that is not severe). It should be diluted in a carrier oil. Pine essential oil is another popular essential oil for frostbite.
How to use essential oils? (Optiderma.com)
Which homeopathic remedies for frostbites?
There's no study proving the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies for frostbite. But these homeopathic remedies are often used to help with frostbite:
- Agaricus is the primary remedy for the burning, itching, redness, and swelling associated with frostbite.
- Apis mellifica is often used for the burning or stinging sensation and redness associated with frostbite, particularly if there is excessive swelling.
- Pulsatilla or petroleum are also good homeopathic remedies for frostbite.
How to prevent frostbites?
- Try to move constantly to keep blood moving and prevent frostbites.
- As soon as you feel "pins and needles" or you notice a white area on your skin, warm up the affected area slowly (frostbitten hands or feet can be warmed in the armpits) or use warm water (not hot) to restore circulation.
- Dehydration is a result as well a contributory factor to frostbite. Replenish body fluids and restore the salt and sugar balance by drinking plenty of fluids.
- Do not wear tight clothes. Wear appropriate clothing in severe weather: thick wool or merinos socks, gloves with liners, down jacket, scarf and hat, that keep you warm!
If your skin shows blisters or any other deterioration, please call a practitioner immediately. A frostbite can seriously damage the connective tissues and, in some cases, even lead to amputation.