What is Frostnip?

So you’re asking yourself “what is frostnip?”.  Well you’ve come to the right place to find out.

Not Quite Frost Bite

Frostnip is a precursor to frostbite!  You could think of it as your body’s way of warning you that you need to cover up and get out of the cold to avoid serious longterm damage.

While frostbite can have both serious and permanent effects frostnip is not nearly as scary.


While beautiful the cold weather can be dangerous if you don’t dress appropriately.

Both are most likely to occur on exposed skin, particularly on the extremities as the body tends to keep warmth for vital organs such as the heart prioritized well above that of fingers, toes, ears and the like.  Thus circulation is decreased and the skin is much more affected by cold when not able to internally keep itself warm.  Although often painful and visually displeasing the effects of frostnip are totally reversible once the skin is warmed back up.

In the simplest words possible frostnip is a superficial cold injury that causes no serious longterm damage and does not involve actual ice crystals forming in the body tissues.

This does not mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously.



The most common symptoms of frostnip include painful skin and extremities.  This could show up as an extreme cold feeling, itching, stinging, prickling, pain, and/or numbness.

Visually pale skin is common in addition to possible red, white and even yellow patches becoming present.

If you or someone you know experience any frostnip symptoms immediately warm up the affected areas to prevent further and potentially irreversible damage from occurring.

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Resources for further information

Health of Children

Mayo Clinic

Advanced Wilderness Life Support

Medicine Net


Medical Dictionary

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6 Responses

  1. Christopher Chadwick says:

    I like the article on frostnip, it straight to the point. Good information on worms, I remember growing up me and father would go out at night a grab them from the ground and use for fishing for the weekend. I never heard of boanthropy. How many people experience this problem?

  2. Jacob Schilling says:

    I have never heard of frostnip, but I really enjoyed the way you explained it. I will be sure to dress warm this winter season and be sure to be more in mind with my body, in order to be able to tell if I should get inside. Honestly though, in the winter time, I rarely am outside for more than 10 minutes at a time.

  3. Barb says:

    Wow! Thanks so much for this wonderful article on frostnip. I have actually never heard of this before. I mean, I didn’t know there was a term for pre-frostbite!

    At what point do you think one goes from frostnip to frostbite? Are the symptoms the same, but the pain is more intense?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment barb,

      The progression from frostnip to frostbite doesn’t typically have a clear symptomatic dividing line.  A good  indicator that you are going beyond frostnip would be the change of colour accompanied by increased pain, when warmth is felt in the associated part again prior to leaving the cold you are generally beyond the frostnip stage.

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