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Chilblains – Causes, Symptoms, And Methods of Treatment and Prevention

Chilblains are uncomfortable, inflammatory skin spots. After being exposed to freezing temperatures, they grow. Chilblains can affect everyone, although women are more likely to get them. If you possess a lower BMI or reside in a cold, wet area, you are more vulnerable to having chilblains. A lot of people’s chilblains heal on their own. Your doctor may recommend medications to prevent chilblains from recurring as frequently if they do. The majority of the time, chilblains don’t cause long-term health issues.

Typically, chilblains are red or blue. They might be uncomfortable, sensitive, or irritating. Chilblains are sometimes referred to as pernio and perniosis.

Who May Develop Chilblains?

Chilblains can affect anybody; however, they are more common in women and those with low body mass indices (BMI). Chilblains are also more likely to develop if you:

  • Reside in a humid or warm environment.
  • Smoke.
  • In chilly, damp conditions, put on tight-fitting shoes, mittens, or outerwear.
  • If a baby is not covered properly (with a facial covering) in wet or cold weather, they may get chilblains.

Different Kinds of Chilblains

Primarily chilblains originate idiopathically. This shows that there are no precise reasons. On the contrary, secondary chilblains are typically linked to a pre-existing medical problem (e.g., bone-related disorders, inflammatory issues, etc.)

What Results in Pernio or Chilblains?

After repeated or intermittent exposure to frigid or moist air, chilblains emerge. Blood vessels close to your skin’s surface tighten or constrict in response to the cold air, which reduces oxygenation and increases sensitivity and inflammation within those exposed areas.

The most frequent causes of chilblains are cold environments and abrupt temperature fluctuations. The blood vessels’ vasospasm in response to exposure to cold is thought to be the cause of chilblains. Vasospasms arise when the arteries that carry blood around the body abruptly contract. These vasospasms may affect the neighbouring muscles’ and skin’s blood supply. These abnormalities might eventually result in skin edoema and irritation, which are indications of chilblains.

It is uncertain why exactly this response takes place. According to some researchers, pernio develops as a result of:

  • Genetics.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations.
  • Underlying illnesses, including peripheral arterial disease or connective tissue abnormalities.

Chilblains Symptoms

  • Reddish-coloured spots that are scattered over the extremities (e.g., toes and fingers).
  • Skin itch.
  • Swelling, especially around exposed extremities such as fingers, toes, and feet.
  • Feeling of burning in the afflicted regions.
  • Dry skin with cracks.

Chilblains Diagnosis

Chilblains are simple to identify. A doctor will identify it if the chilblains symptoms are evident and the individual has recently been subjected to cold weather.

Other illnesses, including lupus, Raynaud’s disease, erythromelalgia, and ischemia must all be considered by the physician. In rare circumstances, a skin biopsy could be performed if the identification is uncertain.

Chilblains Treatments and Preventive Measures

The majority of the time, swollen extremities such as feet, fingers, and toes get completely healed after the winter is all over. You can try the following remedies to heal swollen extremities in the winter:

Warm Feet and Hands

The best chilblains therapy for swollen fingers in the winter is to completely avoid them by following the right precautions. This involves ensuring that your hands are kept warm throughout the winter by wearing gloves and stockings and minimizing exposure to cold air and water with suitable outerwear, gloves, and socks. Avoid overheating it by placing it near a source of heat or rubbing it since doing so causes swelling to rise.

Maintain Your Hydration

Chilblains (swollen fingers and toes) are a symptom that your body is striving to hold onto the water it already has and may suggest that you are dehydrated, even if you may not want to drink much water during the winter. Must try to have at least eight cups of water per day, and most preferably 10. Less than eight glasses of liquids might make ankle and foot inflammation worse.

Dietary Supplements

For those who experience swollen hands and feet in the winter, deciding to take nutritional supplements under a doctor’s supervision is extremely important. Supplements that reduce swollen fingers include those which contain vitamin B, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and calcium, which help in improving the circulation of blood.

Nutritious Food

Foods that provide the body with energy, such as vegetables, dried fruits, protein, and dairy, which aid in warming the body and give it the energy needed to stimulate blood circulation, can help the body recover from swollen extremities in the winter.

Engaging in a Workout

The impact of cold weather is lessened by exercise because it boosts blood circulation to the extremities and increases blood flow.

Elevation Exercises

If you’ve been standing for a while, examine if your ankles and feet have begun to swell. If you have, pause and put your feet up to rest. This will assist in reducing inflammation. You may also do a few yoga positions. Your buttocks should be near the surface of the wall while you lay on your side on the mat. Extend your legs toward the wall while lying on your back for support. As close as you can, pull your buttocks up against the wall. Stay in this position for 5 to 10 minutes. One of the best postures to do while attempting to reduce puffiness in this position.

Consult a Physician

If the pain is extremely serious, follow the doctor’s prescribed chilblains treatments; if you suspect an infection; or if the chilblains sensations don’t go away after one to two weeks, contact a doctor to rule out any potential health issues. See a physician to verify other concerns if the chilblains symptoms persist throughout the warm season.

You should visit the doctor if the swelling in your fingers lasts more than three weeks and the chilblains symptoms don’t go away to receive a prescription for an anti-inflammatory cream. The doctor could also recommend blood pressure drugs are among the effective chilblains treatments that assist in opening constrictive blood vessels close to the skin’s surface, easing discomfort and swelling.

Often Rub Your Feet

The benefits of gentle massage include stress relief and healing from swollen feet. Strong, pressure-applied strokes are used to massage gently your feet. This could help drain excess fluid from the area, reducing swelling.

Skip The Alcohol

One of the most overlooked causes of swollen feet is alcohol use. Alcohol use, especially when it’s excessive, might cause people to hold water in their bodies. Because of this enhanced water retention, people may develop inflammation in their feet. One treatment for swelling fingers and toes is abstaining from alcohol.

Home Care Measures

The following can reduce Chilblains Symptoms:

  • Gently rewarm the area; resist massaging, rubbing, or using direct heat.
  • Keep the skin dry and warm.
  • Apply lotion to soothe irritation and gradually rewarm the skin without massaging, rubbing, or applying direct heat. Try to use fragrance-free lotion.
  • Minimize the risk of infection by cleansing the skin with just an antiseptic.

Risk concerns

The following factors may make you more likely to get chilblains:

Wearing Tight or Cold-exposed Clothing– You may be more prone to developing chilblains if you wear confining clothes and footwear outside in chilly, wet conditions. Furthermore, chilblains are more prone to form on skin that has been exposed to cold, wet environments.

Your Sexual Identity – Chilblains are more common in women than in males.

Being too slim – There is a higher chance of developing chilblains in those who weigh around 20% less than would be predicted for their height.

Having Poor Blood Flow – People who have poor circulation are typically more sensitive to temperature fluctuations, which makes them more prone to chilblains.

Raynaud’s Disease – Raynaud’s illness patients are more prone to developing chilblains. Both conditions can produce sores, but Raynaud disease causes various skin color changes.

Infected By an Autoimmune Disease – The most prevalent autoimmune condition linked to chilblains is lupus, an inflammatory connective tissue disease.

Season And Environment. The living circumstances and clothes used in colder and drier places are more insulating against cold; hence chilblains become less likely to develop there. If you reside in a location with high humidity and chilly but not freezing temperatures, your chance of developing chilblains is increased.


Swelling in the feet and ankles is uncommon. When you observe that your extremities are swollen, there may be a reason for this. In addition to having high blood pressure, kidney problems, being pregnant, or even being dehydrated, cold temperatures can also cause inflammation in the feet and toes.

Any part of the body can have chilblains, although the fingers, arms, legs, and feet are the most frequently affected. Even while rarely swelling aches, it can nonetheless be irritating. Socks may feel uneasy and tight, and shoes may start to pinch. The best part is that there are doctor’s approved chilblains treatments and preventive methods that you may employ to cure chilblains at home when you suffer from them.

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