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Will my health insurance policy cover me for Frostbite?

What is Frostbite?

Frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissue freeze at low temperatures. It can affect any part of your body, but extremities like the hands, feet and nose are most likely to suffer from the condition.

There are two types of frostbite- superficial frostbite, in which only the skin and top level of tissue are affected, and deep frostbite, in which deeper tissue becomes frozen and blood vessels are affected.

When dead tissue occurs, amputation may be necessary.

How common is Frostbite?

Certain groups of people are more likely to get frostbite. These are people who take part in winter sports, anyone stranded in extreme cold conditions, soldiers, sailors and rescue workers, homeless people, people with circulatory conditions, and people who smoke.

What are the symptoms of Frostbite?

The symptoms of frostbite depend on the severity of the condition. The early stages of frostbite will cause pins and needles and throbbing and aching in the affected area. The skin will become cold and numb and white. Out of the cold, the skin will turn red and blister, and may well itch.

If you continue to be exposed to the cold frostbite will become more severe, and the skin will become white, blue or blotchy and hard to touch. As the skin thaws, blood blisters will form and thicken into black scabs.

How is Frostbite treated?

Prevention of frostbite is most important, by moving to a warmer place, replacing wet clothing, warming the body, and avoiding rubbing the area.

The area will then need to be re-warmed, ideally under medical supervision. After rewarming the skin should be kept clean and wrapped in bandages. Pain can be treated with medication. In more severe cases, the area may need to be amputated.

If you have not received treatment or advice, or suffered any symptoms in the past five years choose a moratorium product.
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