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Patient discussion about thermal burn
Q. What are the visual distinctions between thermal burns and frostbite? Is it possible to definitively distinguish the two from each other in all cases, or do they present identically in many cases? In other words, are frostbite injuries-for all intents and purposes, actual burns and if they are not, in what ways do they differ?
In late stage frostbite, the ice crystals in the cells melt and the ruptured cells pour out their contents, then blisters may form. Since the affected area has basically lost circulation, gangrene sets in rather quickly and the tissue turns black and dry.
Deep (full thickness) heat related burns are surrounded by areas of erythema (reddened skin) and skin with less degrees of burning. Also, eschar is obviously charred skin tissue forming a scab like structure, and looks nothing like gangrene. The wound bed in a burn leaks plasma constantly. Blistering is pretty immediate with heat related burns of a sufficient degree.