Chilblains are the painful inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin that arises in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air. Also called pernio, chilblains can create itching, red patches, swelling, and blistering on the hands and feet. Chilblains typically remove within one to three weeks, particularly if the weather gets warmer. You may have revival seasonally for years. Treatment of chilblains involves protecting yourself from the cold and using lotions to ease the symptoms. Chilblains do not typically result in permanent injury. But the condition can produce to infection, which may make serious damage if left untreated of chilblains. The best approach to chilblains is to avoid growing them by confining the exposure to cold, dressing warmly, and covering exposed skin.
Symptoms of Chilblains
Signs and symptoms of chilblains may involve:
1) Small, itchy red areas on the skin, sometimes on the feet or hands
2) Possible blistering or skin ulcers
3) Swelling of the skin
4) Burning sensation on the skin
5) Changes in skin color from red to dark blue, accompanied by pain
Chilblains will typically get better on their own. Seek medical care to check for complications if the pain is unusually serious, if you suspect an infection, or if the symptoms are not developing after one to two weeks. If the symptoms extend into the warm season, consult a doctor to figure out other conditions. If you have diabetes disease or poor circulation, healing may be impaired. Be cautious and seek care.
No one knows properly what causes chilblains. They may be an abnormal reaction of the body to cold exposure, followed by rewarming. Rewarming of cold skin can make small blood vessels under the skin to spread more quickly than nearby larger blood vessels can handle. This results in a bottleneck effect, and the blood leaking into adjacent tissues are the cause of Chilblains.
Complications of Chilblains
Chilblains complications arise if the skin blisters. If that occurs, you may grow ulcers and infections. Besides being painful, infections are potentially life-threatening if left untreated. Consult a doctor if you suspect infection.
You generally would not require to consult the doctor for chilblains. If you do visit the doctor, he or she will be able for the diagnosis of chilblains according to the skin condition by looking at it and discussing with you about any recent cold exposure. The exam might also include checking the circulation. He or she may do further tests, like a skin biopsy, to figure out other reasons for the signs and symptoms for the diagnosis of chilblains.
Treatment of Chilblains
The first line of treatment of chilblains usually includes measures to keep hands and feet warm and dry, like keeping the indoor environment warm and dry, using gloves and socks, and changing damp gloves and socks when required.
To prevent chilblains:
1) Avoid or confine the exposure to cold.
2) Dress in layers of loose clothing and wear mittens and warm, water-resistant footwear.
3) Cover all exposed skin as fully as possible when going outside in cold weather.
4) Keep the hands, feet, and face dry and warm.
5) Keep the home and workplace comfortably warm.
6) Do not smoke.
If the skin is exposed to cold, it is beneficial to rewarm it gradually because sudden rewarming of cold skin may worsen chilblains prevention.