Chilblains : Symptoms Causes & Treatment – Article
Chilblains : Symptoms Causes & Treatment – Article – Chillblains are a small, itchy swelling on the skin that occurs as a reaction to cold temperatures.
They often affect the extremes of the body, such as the toes, fingers, heel, ears, and nose.
Chilblains can be uncomfortable, but rarely cause any permanent damage. They usually heal within a few weeks if further exposure to cold is avoided.
Symptoms of chilblains
Chilblains usually develop several hours after exposure to cold. They usually cause irritation and itching in the affected areas, which can be more intense when going to a warm room.
The affected skin may also be swollen and may be red or dark blue.
In severe cases, the skin surface may rupture and lesions or blisters may develop.
It is important not to scratch the skin as it can easily break and become infected.
Causes – Chilblains : Symptoms Causes & Treatment – Article
Chilblains are the result of an abnormal reaction to cold. They are common in Britain because moist, cold weather is common in winter.
Some people develop chilblains that last several months each winter.
When the skin is cold, the blood vessels near its surface become narrower. If the skin is exposed to heat, the blood vessels become wider.
If this happens too quickly, the blood vessels near the surface of the skin cannot always handle the increased blood flow.
This can cause blood to leak into the surrounding tissue, causing inflammation and itching associated with chilblains.
Some people are more at risk of chillblains than others.
Family history of children,
Contact regularly for cold, damp or disgusting conditions,
A poor diet or low body weight,
Lupus – a long-term condition that causes inflammation in body tissues
Raynaud’s phenomenon – a common condition that affects the blood supply to parts of the body, usually the fingers and toes
People who smoke have a higher risk of chilblains because nicotine blocks blood vessels.
Chilblains can also occur on areas of the feet that are exposed to pressure, such as bunions or toes that are squeezed by tight shoes.
Treatment – Chilblains : Symptoms Causes & Treatment – Article
Chilblains often heal on their own after a week or two without treatment.
Using a soothing lotion such as calamine or witch hazel to help relieve itching may help. Your pharmacist may also be able to recommend a suitable product.
If your chillblains are serious and keep coming back, talk to your GP. They may recommend taking a daily tablet or capsule of a drug called nifedipine. It works by relaxing the blood vessels, improving your circulation.
Nifedipine can be used to help heal existing chilblains, or to prevent them from developing during the winter.