APR 20, 2016 1:02 PM PDT

Frostbitten: How Cold Temperatures Damage the Body

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Animals that live in the frigid Antarctic have evolved many sophisticated adaptations to deal with the cold, including insulating blubber and fur. Even more refined than this, the Antarctic toothfish can produce "antifreeze proteins" that keeps their blood from turning into ice. But the humans just arent as well adapted, and exposure to extreme cold harsh conditions can have damaging impacts on our bodies.

Frostbite is considered an injury to the skin and underlying tissues due to extreme cold. In conditions where the core body temperature dips below its regular 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit), the hypothalamus diverts blood away from the extremities to preserve warmth to the vital organs. This is why frostbite effects are most severe in the hands and feet.

There are three stages to frostbite: frostnip, superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite. Of the three, deep frostbite is the most dangerous, as the entire skin and underlying tissues are damaged, which could warrant amputation. Watch the video to learn a first-hand account of frostbite dangers!
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 11, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
DEC 11, 2020
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
Physicists believe that we exist in an expanding universe. But what does that mean? Do our habitats, bodies, and atoms & ...
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
JAN 13, 2021
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
For some time now, we have known of the 'Goldilocks zone'- a distance from the sun that leads to planets neither ...
APR 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Dent in Earth's Magnetic Field Caused by Buried Ancient World
APR 17, 2021
Dent in Earth's Magnetic Field Caused by Buried Ancient World
Researchers from Arizona State University have suggested that two giant blobs of rock cupping the Earth's core are l ...
MAY 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite
MAY 15, 2021
Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite
Scientists know that water is abundant in the solar system- existing in the rings of Saturn and on its moon, Enceladus. ...
JUL 16, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Melting Mountain Glaciers in Asia Release Greenhouse Gas
JUL 16, 2021
Melting Mountain Glaciers in Asia Release Greenhouse Gas
High mountain glaciers that are melting in the Tibetan plateau in Asia contain greenhouse gases and should be counted in ...
OCT 15, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Art of the Smize: Study Shows Eyes are More Active in Smiling Behind a Mask
OCT 15, 2021
The Art of the Smize: Study Shows Eyes are More Active in Smiling Behind a Mask
Mask wearing has become a part of our everyday lives. Something that we have all adapted to because of this is expressin ...
Loading Comments...