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Burnt index finger with compressed gas. Area turned white. Put cream and wrapped gauze. Should see doctor?

Feb 2013
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Practicing since : 2002
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my daughter works at starbucks and just texted me that she froze/burned her left index finger with compressed no2 gas. She feels no pain, the area turned white and is about the size of a quarter. They put a cream on it and wrapped it in gauze. Should she see a doctor? How do we treat her finger?
Posted Wed, 17 Jul 2013 in Medicines and Side Effects
Answered by Dr. E Venkata Ramana 2 hours later

Thank you for your query on Healthcare Magic.

It seems she developed deep frostbite injury on her left index finger due to the compressed NO2 gas.

As she feels no pain, it looks like injury involving deep layers of skin on index finger.

First I advise her to consult the doctor immediately to assess the severity of frostbite injury to her finger.

If the skin is only involved it is known as frostnip, and deeper tissue involvement is seen with extreme frostbite.

The following things will differentiate among the types of cold injury.

Frostnip:Painful sensation, darker areas of skin, red skin, and skin responds normally to pressure.

Superficial frostbite : Numbness, white or grayish yellow skin, and skin still feels soft.

Deep frostbite : Numbness, white or grayish yellow skin. Skin feels waxy and unusually firm.

This type of injury needs gradual rewarming.

Ask her to do the following measures as a first aid:

1.Ask her to move a warm indoor location.

2.Ask her to remove any wet items of clothing, or tight jewelry and replace with fresh clothing.

3.For treating frostnip:

Ask her to rewarm the affected area slowly by the following methods:

a. To place hand and finger under arm pits

b. To submerge the finger in warm water (not hot water).

c. To apply warm clothes to affected area.

d. To blow warm air on left index finger.

To avoid the rubbing of that area.

4. For treating severe frostbite :

a.Warm the affected area gently by submerging in warm water (100 to 105
degree F).

b. Apply dry sterile dressing.

c. If any blisters forms, do not try to burst the blisters.

If there is tissue injury and she is not update for tetanus toxoid, she may need one shot of tetanus toxoid.

Therefore first I advise to see the doctor to assess the extent and severity of involvement and to advise you an appropriate treatment for her finger injury.

Hope I have answered your query, if you have any clarification please let me know.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Burnt index finger with compressed gas. Area turned white. Put cream and wrapped gauze. Should see doctor? 54 minutes later
Thank you!
Answered by Dr. E Venkata Ramana 43 minutes later

Thank you for getting back.

Hope she will be fine and without any problem to her finger.

Best regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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