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Chilblains Risk and Its Treatments

What is Chilblains?

A chilblain, also known as pernio or perniosis is an abnormal skin reaction to cold, damp weather in humid climates.

What do Chilblains look like?

Chilblains is a painful swelling accompanied by red, burning, itching feeling on the skin and intensified when coming in from out of the cold. In a lot of cases the skin over the Chilblain will break down causing a sore that may become infected if not treated with an antibiotic.

It is most commonly found on the toes, fingers, nose and ears.

Causes of Chilblains

Exposure to Cold, damp, nonfreezing weather is the biggest contributor of Chilblains. When the blood vessels become cold they constrict and when the skin is warmed too quickly the vessels cannot react quick enough and blood leaks into the skin causing Chilblains to form. The key point is that even though it is the damp cold weather that is related to Chilblains it is not the reason for it. The root cause is warming of the skin too quickly that causes Chilblains to form not the cold.

Pressure points on the feet such as bunion and calluses or where the toes are under pressure due to tight shoes, anywhere the blood circulation is restricted is at risk for Chilblains.
Damp living conditions may also be a contributor to Chilblains.

Who is at risk?

Mainly young adult women are at the greatest risk. The reasons are unknown but are to believe that due to hormonal changes is what puts them at a greater risk.

Obviously people who don't wear socks outside during the winter months are at risk. People who are not properly clothed for the weather conditions are also at risk for Chilblains.

The elderly or anyone with poor circulation is at risk. People who smoke because smoking slows the blood circulation and diabetics are also at risk.

Chilblains can occur in some people every year for the rest of their lives and in others it occurs only a few years and it never comes back. There is no known reason for this.

Prevention of Chilblains

Do not let the skin get cold, where thick wool socks that trap the air around the feet and naturally keep them warm. Wear rubber boots to keep your feet dry. Wrap a wool or tight knitted scarf around your face to keep out the moist cold air.

If your feet do get cold avoid using direct heat to warm them such as a fireplace, electric heating blanket, a hot bath or shower. This has been known to cause Chilblains.

Do not smoke. Smoking affects the circulation of small blood vessels that feed into the skin.

Exercise vigorously before going outside.

Soak your hands in warm water, warming them thoroughly, but be sure to dry them completely before going out.

Treatment for Chilblains

Chilblains does not respond well to treatment the most you can do is see your doctor and keep the infected area warm and if you smoke, stop, it will help to increase the blood flow to the infected area.

Topical steroid prescribed by your doctor to help stop the itching and swelling.Do not apply direct heat its best to warm slowly with blankets and warm clothing. Symptoms may clear with in 7-14 days.


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