How to Treat an Ice Burn

Written by michelle barry
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How to Treat an Ice Burn
Ice can be as damaging to skin as extreme heat. (ice image by Pali A from

Burns are typically heat-related injuries. However, an ice "burn" can be equally damaging. Ice can damage the skin and underlying tissues, depending on the severity of the burn. Ice burns can be caused by snow, dry ice or actual ice, or contact with very cold metal or even liquid helium or liquid nitrogen. When you get a severe ice burn, you'll feel a "pins and needles" sensation followed by numbness, which can be an indicator of frostbite.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Warm water
  • Aloe
  • Cloths
  • Basin or bathtub

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  1. 1

    Apply aloe to the area of a minor burn. Let the aloe penetrate the skin.

  2. 2

    Remove any cold or wet clothing, as well as any jewellery on or near the affected area.

  3. 3

    Soak cloths in warm water and apply to the burnt area.

  4. 4

    Soak the area in warm water, ideally 40 to 42.2 degrees Celsius.

  5. 5

    Keep the water circulating. For example, if your hand is the burnt area, soak it in a bowl in the sink with the faucet drizzling warm water into the bowl. A bathtub will work for larger areas or limbs.

  6. 6

    Dress any severely burnt or frostbitten areas with dry sterile dressings. If toes or fingers are affected, wrap them separately, not together, so that they are not touching skin to skin.

  7. 7

    Seek medical attention if the area exposed to the ice has a pins and needles sensation or goes numb, or if blisters appear on the area. These are indicators of frostbite. Drink warm liquids while you are en route or in the process of seeking medical attention, as this can help replace lost fluids and warm you from within.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to thaw out or warm ice-burnt areas until the individual is moved to a stable, warm area.

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