Sunday, January 6, 2019


Chilblains are also known as pernio and are characterized by redness, swelling, itching and blistering usually on the fingers, toes, nose and ears. Chilblains are small, itchy, painful lumps that develop on the skin as an abnormal response to cold. Chilblains subside within a couple of weeks after treatment. However they may recur for years especially during very cold weather. The treatment for chilblains mainly involves medications and topical applications. 


What are chilblains?
What causes chilblains?
What makes chilblains more likely?
What are the symptoms of chilblains?
Are there any complications of chilblains?
How long do chilblains last?
Do I need any tests?
What is the treatment for chilblains?
Can you prevent chilblains?
What are chilblains?

What are Chilblains?

Chilblains sound rather like something little old ladies get, but in fact anyone can get chilblains at any age. They are as common in children as they are in elderly people. Chilblains are lumps on the skin which come up as an abnormal reaction to the cold. They are usually red or purplish.

They can be itchy or sore. Sometimes they come up when skin is warmed up too quickly after it has been cold. Nobody really knows why some people are prone to chilblains and others are luckier and don't get them.

Chilblains on the toes
What causes chilblains?

Chilblains (sometimes called pernio) are small, itchy, painful, red swellings on the skin. Chilblains are caused by an abnormal skin reaction to cold. They tend to occur on 'extremities' that easily become cold - that is, your toes, fingers, nose and earlobes. However, other areas of skin sometimes develop chilblains when they become cold. For example, your heels, lower legs and thighs (especially in horse riders).

Chilblains are quite common. They can occur at any age. They are most common in children and in older people. They also occur more in women than in men. It is not clear why some people get chilblains when their skin gets cold. The tiny blood vessels under the skin narrow (constrict) when the skin becomes cold. The blood supply to areas of skin may then become very slow. As the skin re-warms there is some leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the tissues. In some way this causes areas of inflammation and swelling, leading to chilblains.

The speed (rate) of temperature change may play a part. Some people get chilblains if they warm up cold skin too quickly. For example, with a hot water bottle or by sitting very close to a fire.

What makes chilblains more likely?

Most chilblains occur in people who are otherwise healthy. However, some factors may make some people more prone to chilblains, such as:

Having poor circulation or other problems of your blood vessels. In particular, people who have a condition called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more likely to get chilblains. A condition called peripheral arterial disease also affects the circulation to your skin.

Having a family history of chilblains.
Being a smoker.
Having diabetes.
Having anorexia nervosa, or other conditions giving you a low body mass index (BMI).
What are the symptoms of chilblains?

Chilblains occur several hours after being exposed to the cold. You may get just one chilblain but often several develop. They may join together to form a larger swollen, red area of skin.

Chilblains are very itchy. A burning sensation is also typical. They are usually red at first but may become purple. Pain and tenderness over the chilblains often develop.

Common places for chilblains to develop are:

Ear lobes

Typically, each chilblain lasts for about seven days and then, gradually, goes away over a week or so. Some people have repeated bouts of chilblains each winter.

Are there any complications of chilblains?

Usually there are no complications, and the chilblains vanish in time without trace. Some complications which occasionally occur are described below.

You may develop an infection in the skin affected by the chilblain. This is more common if you scratch it. This allows the germs that are normally harmlessly present on the skin to get inside the skin.
In some cases the skin over a chilblain may blister, which may delay healing.

Occasionally, the skin breaks down to leave a small ulcer which is prone to infection.

In some cases chilblains can become persistent (chronic). This usually occurs in people who are repeatedly exposed to cold conditions. The skin becomes scarred over time. It may develop a different colour to the rest of the skin around it.
How long do chilblains last?

Usually chilblains go away of their own accord within a week or two. You may get more if you are prone to them, and are exposed to cold conditions. Occasionally, they can hang around if you are continually exposed to the cold.

Do I need any tests?

No. Chilblains can be diagnosed from their typical appearance together with the background of having been exposed to cold.

What is the treatment for chilblains?

Although chilblains are uncomfortable, they do not usually cause any permanent damage. They will usually heal on their own if further exposure to the cold is avoided.

Keep the affected areas warm. This means staying out of the cold, or wearing warm gloves, socks, etc, when outdoors.
No other treatment is normally needed, as they usually go away by themselves.

A range of creams and lotions can be bought from a pharmacy. However, there is no evidence that any of these are of benefit so they are not recommended.

Steroid creams are no longer recommended for the treatment (or prevention) of chilblains.

If you smoke then you should try to stop, as smoking can make chilblains worse.

Medicines are not usually needed. A medicine called nifedipine can open wide (dilate) the small blood vessels and may help to treat chilblains which are not settling within the normal time. Occasionally it may also be used to prevent chilblains in the winter months in people who have repeated symptoms.

Can you prevent chilblains?

If you are prone to chilblains then trying to prevent them by doing the following is sensible:

Keep your hands and feet warm when out in cold weather by using warm gloves and socks. Consider special heated gloves and socks if chilblains are a repeated problem.

Keep your head and ears warm by wearing a hat and scarf.

You should keep as warm as possible in the cold. Wearing several loose layers is ideal to trap body heat. You should also keep as dry as possible.

After being out in the cold, do not heat the skin quickly, such as by wrapping your hands round a cup of coffee, putting them on a hot radiator or applying a hot water bottle. Warm yourself up gradually.
Side-effects to some medicines may narrow (constrict) tiny blood vessels. This may be enough to make you prone to repeated chilblains. For example, beta-blockers can have this effect. Tell your doctor if you become prone to chilblains following starting any medication.


1.) Potato for Chilblains Treatment

To utilize potatoes as a remedy for chilblains, cut an entire potato into equal parts. Rub a smidgen of ocean salt on it and rub this salted surface of the affected region. You can likewise grind the potato to concentrate the juice or mix it and strainer the mash. Applying the juice on the affected areas likewise work.

2.) Onion for Chilblains Treatment

Onions are great in treating the consistent symptoms of chilblains. You can grind a couple of enormous onions and squash it to get the juice out. You can likewise toss the onions into the blender with a couple of tablespoons of water and barrage it. Sifter the mash to concentrate the juice. Spot the juice altogether everywhere throughout the affected zone to get prompt relief.

3.) Lemon for Chilblains Treatment

Utilizing lemon for chilblains is simple. You basically need to juice a couple of lemons and touch it onto the affected areas. You will be astonished at how soon you will mend.

4.) Cayenne Powder for Chilblains Treatment

Despite the fact that it appears to be improbable that you could treat an irritation with this blazing zest, cayenne pepper really builds blood stream and alleviates swelling, which is a side effect of chilblains. Notwithstanding, if the skin has ruptured, don’t put cayenne pepper on it or you will think twice about it! Rather, you can utilize calendula salve.

5.) Turnip for Chilblains Treatment

Turnip is the best remedy for chilblains in the matter of their mending. Cleave a few turnips and drop them in a huge pot of boiling water. At the point when marginally cooled, dip and douse the affected skin in this water. You can likewise rub newly cleaved turnips on the affected skin.

6.) Dark Peppercorn for Chilblains Treatment

You can broil around 50 grams of dark peppercorn in sesame oil. At the point when cooled, strain the oil and back rub everything over the bothersome, rankled skin for relief. Dodge this remedy if the skin is split or ruptured.

7.) Egg White for Chilblains Treatment

Egg whites help in relieving chilblains symptoms rapidly. Take the white of an egg and beat it with a little flour, nectar, and glycerin. When it achieves a thick consistency, use it on the affected areas as an ointment.

8.) Herb Oil for Chilblains Treatment

Distinctive fundamental oils got from herbs and blooms help in relieving symptoms of chilblains. Peppermint oil is useful for giving a crisp and cool sensation in the affected areas. Rosemary and eucalyptus oils can be rubbed onto the swollen parts as well. On the other hand, if the skin is scraped or ruptured, don’t make a difference the oils specifically on the skin.

9.) Diet for Chilblains Treatment

What you eat when you are affected by this condition is significant to the recuperation process and its speed. As there is a great deal of aggravation, eat a lot of vitamin C and A. You can eat sustenance rich in these supplements or take supplements. Spinach, egg yolk, sesame seeds millets, nuts like almonds and so forth are helpful for chilblain patients.

Separated from this, you can purchase over the counter medications for relieving itchiness and torment. On the off chance that you go out skiing or seek after any donning action in the snow, verify you wear well fitting footwear and gloves.

Natural Remedies are particularly effective for treating this type of condition. 

Applying aloe vera, propolis, and manuka honey applied topically can treat symptoms of the condition and cure the chilblains entirely. Applying black pepper essential oil is a natural treatment for the itch associated with chilblains while applying coconut oil, lavender, and tea tree oil also relieve the pain and remedy the condition. It is also important to prevent future recurrence of the disorder by avoiding the cold, dressing warmly and making sure the extremities are well protected when in the cold.

Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE

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