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Fact or Fiction: Frostbite
by Staff
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.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Your skin gets extremely cold, but it doesn't actually freeze.

The first stage of frostbite is called frostnip.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: The first stage is called frostpinch.

One of the first signs of frostbite is a white outline around your mouth.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Your lips turn purple first.

If you're feeling tingling in your extremities, your skin is also probably starting to lose its pigmentation.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: The skin turns red in the initial stages of frostbite.

After your skin becomes red, it will start turning white.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: It will turn red, then start cracking, before it fades to white.

If you're still out in the elements after your skin turns white, you'll notice that your fingernails are turning yellow.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Your fingernails will actually start to fall off.

You should never try to warm frostbitten skin by putting it in hot water.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: You should use hot water for a minor case, but not if you're severely frostbitten.

If you're unable to get to shelter, the best thing you can do is start rubbing your skin as vigorously as possible.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Just rub your hands together to create friction and then put them over your ears.

If you can, try to put gauze or cloth between your fingers and toes to prevent them from sticking together.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Take care to use only natural fibers. Synthetics will make things even worse.

Whatever you do, don't remove any of your clothes, even if they're wet.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: You should remove any clothing that's restricting blood flow.

Even if you think there's a chance of your skin refreezing, you should try to thaw it out.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: You should try to warm up only if you have a very mild case.

Severe frostbite can penetrate all the way through to the bone.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: It can only go as far as muscles.

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.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: This is what happens when you have superficial frostbite.

The blister will show up immediately after you rewarm your skin.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: It will probably take a couple of hours for the blister to appear.

Frostbite occurs most often in young children and the elderly.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: It's actually middle-aged people who get it most.

Gloves offer more protection against frostbite than mittens do.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: It's the other way around.

Smoking increases the risk for frostbite because it decreases lung capacity.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Smokers are more susceptible to frostbite because their immune systems are compromised.

You can get a fever from frostbite.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: A fever usually occurs only if you've also contracted pneumonia.

One case of frostbite increases your risk of developing it again.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: That';s true only if you had a very severe case.

A man who lost both legs to frostbite climbed K2 in 2006.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: He made it to the summit of Mount Everest.