This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
These are too well known in this country to need much description. From long exposure to an intense degree of cold, or even a shorter exposure to a less degree of cold, provided a strong wind is blowing at the time, the part exposed will become cold, white and stiff. The cold appears to contract the bloodvessels, gradually driving the blood out of them, and leaving them of a whitish colour.
The nose being the part most exposed to the wind, is usually first attacked, and, as the part frozen gradually loses all sense of feeling, the person attacked by the frost is seldom himself aware of the accident, till some acquaintance he meets on the street calls his attention to the fact. After the nose, the fingers and toes are the most liable to be frozen, being farthest from the centre of circulation. If not at once relieved, the part becomes dead, and, in course of time, drops off. Accidents of this kind are not uncommon, particularly in thinly settled parts of the country. Sir Francis Bond Head, in one of his published works, relates an instance of a person travelling through the bush, whose feet became frozen, and who, happening to kick a stump, was surprised to find that he had kicked his toes off, without feeling it. Whether the anecdote is true or not, it might be true. A year ago I saw, in one of the hospitals in Detroit, a young woman who had lost both her feet from the effects of frost.
The object to be attained is to restore circulation and life to the part. At the same time this must be done gradually, otherwise violent inflammation, followed by mortification, will ensue. As soon, therefore, as frost-bite is discovered, the part frozen must be diligently rubbed with snow, and this must be continued till the natural colour and proper feeling are restored to the part, no matter how long it may take; till these results are obtained, the patient must not be brought near a fire. Parts that have once been frost-bitten are usually more susceptible to cold afterwards than they were before, therefore, they must be well protected in cold weather.