Frostbite - susceptibility, Prevention and Immediate Treatment

  • S.S. Purkayastha Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, Delhi.
  • W. Selvamurthy Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, Delhi.
Keywords: Acclimatisation, Cold induced vasodilatation, Cold injury, Frostbite


Frostbite, the severest form of cold injury, is a major health hazard and a serious medical problem for theArmed Forces operating in snow-bound areas at high altitudes. Detailed experiments on susceptibility, preventionand treatment were conducted to find out suitable measures to prevent, treat and ameliorate wld injuries.Experiments conducted on monkeys have shown that animals with higher  peripheral vascular response me betterprotected against cold injury. Measurements of cold-induced vasodilatation (CIVD), heat output and peripheralblood flow under local cold stress can be used to screen out highly prone individuals to frostbite. Coldacclimatisation was effective in raising the peripheral vascular response and thereby lessening the degree ofinjury. Frostbite having occurred, its treatment is not very satisfactory. This is primarily due to the time lagbetween occurrence of frostbite and initiation of therapy, which plays a vital role in its curative action. Keepingthis in view, many experiments have been wnductedon this treatment. Pilot studies were carriedoutusing variousdrugs and vitamins, and also procedures like rapid rewarming in warm water, tea decoction, turnip (shalgum)decoction, etc., singly as well as in combination, for treatment. The most encouraging result was obtained by theprocedure of rapid rewarming in tea decoction maintained at 37-39 "C immediately after cold exposure, followedby combined therapy of aspirin (5 mgtkg) and pentoxifylline (40 mgkg) along with vitamin C (50 mglkg) twicedaily for 7 days.

Author Biographies

S.S. Purkayastha, Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, Delhi.
Shri SS Purkayastha, Sci E, is heading Cold and High Altitude Physiology Division at the DefenceInstitute of Physiology C Allied Sciences (DIPAS), Delhi. He has conducted research in the field of high altitude and cold physiology. He is the only Scientist in India to have conducted physiological research trials in arctic and antarctic regions in 1990 and also the first Physiologist to have carriedout research in Siachen Glacier at an altitude of 5486.4 - 6096.0 m. He has published about 100research papers in nationallinternational Journals. He was conferred Surg. Rear A h M.S. MalhotraResearch Award (seven times) for the best publications from the Institute, and also SIR1 Researh Award for the significant contributions in the prevention and treatment of frostbite.
W. Selvamurthy, Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, Delhi.
Dr W Selvamurthy, Sci G, is presently Directopf two DRDO institutes, namely, Defence Instituteof Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) and Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR),Delhi. He had made significant contributions in the fields of physiological acclimatisation at highaltitude, application of yoga for the Armed Forces, psychological stress and its management, clinicalneurophysiology. He also discovered a drug to save war casualties subjected to severe haemorrhage.He was the leader of the First Indo-Soviet Scientific Expedition to the Arctic for physiological experiments (1990-91). He has beenhonoured with the prestigious awards : Prof S NMaitra Oration(1995); Bharat Nirman Pracharya Award (1995); SIRI-&seach Award (1995); Platinum JubileeOration (1995); Maj Gen S L Bhatia Oration (1994); Prof B B Sarka Memorial Oration (1993);DRDO Scientist of the Year Award (1986); Kaya Vicharana (1986); Shakuntala Amir Chand Award(1985); Maj Gen Amir Chand Award (1984); and Thangan-Vasudevan Research (1981). He haspublished I0 books, 120 research papers and 50 technical reports.


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How to Cite
Purkayastha, S., & Selvamurthy, W. (2013). Frostbite - susceptibility, Prevention and Immediate Treatment. Defence Science Journal, 49(5), 371-380.
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