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What are the symptoms of frostbite?

Working on a fishing boat is not easy. You have to continuously deal with heavy equipment, rough seas, slippery decks and bad weather. While other New Yorkers often spend their winter days in warm buildings, you must brave the cold while hauling in crab, lobster, black sea bass or other marine delicacies. You also have to be on the watch for symptoms of frostbite.

You probably associate frostbite with numbness and while this is one of the symptoms, there are actually several stages to be aware of. According to the Mayo Clinic, a numbness indicates that you may already be suffering from the most severe stage - deep frostbite. At this point, the tissue in the afflicted area will become hard and change to a black color. After your skin is rewarmed, (and before the tissue changes), you will likely experience blisters that are quite large in size.

A lesser stage is superficial frostbite. This is characterized by a warmness that creeps into your skin, ice crystals that appear, or skin that goes extremely pale or white. Blisters are also common as you rewarm the skin and may be filled with fluid. Also during the rewarming stage, your skin may change color to a purple tone, blue or even mottled.

The first stage is called frostnip and may be harder for you to recognize.  Frostnip will not cause you any permanent damage but if you ignore the symptoms, it will develop into the other two stages. Generally, you will experience a feeling of extreme cold, and your skin may become red or lose its color. Tingling and pain are common sensations during the rewarming period.

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