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Chilblains (sometimes termed pernio) are a painful abnormal reaction of the small blood vessels in the skin when exposed to cold temperatures. Chilblains are common. They tend to develop on the 'extremities' that more easily become cold. The toes are specifically vulnerable, but other extremities that can develop chilblains include fingers, earlobes and the nose. Although, other areas of skin sometimes develop chilblains when they become cold. For instance, the heels, lower legs and thighs (especially in horse riders). Betimes chilblains progresses to blisters and even open sores.

Children and the elderly are most often influenced. In children recrudesces each winter for a few years are common but complete recovery is usual. They are sometimes accumulated by sun exposure. The condition is also discerned by numbing of the affected area and the appearance of blisters or open sores. Chilblains does not usually cause permanent injury, but can result in serious detriment if left untreated. A chilblain may also form on a pressure bearing area such as a bunion.

Chilblains usually anatomize sponta-neously after 1-3 weeks, without causing any permanent damage. Chilblains are not very common in countries where the cold is more extreme as the air is drier. Chilblains begins during the winter (when the weather gets colder) - the starting symptoms involve burning and itching in the area of the developing chilblain. Many people with poor circulation and with other complications of their blood vessels are more prone to developing chilblains.

To forbid chilblains, avoid or limit your exposure to cold, such as by dressing warmly and covering your head and all exposed skin when you go outside in cold weather. It seems that many people have special forms of proteins in their body that react unusually to cold temperatures by nuggeting together. The little toe is more probably to develop chilblains than the other toes. Some people with chilblains also have Raynaud's phenomenon. Serious cases can progress to skin breakdown and ulceration, but this is unusual. They are most common in the young and the elderly, and are more liably to occur in women.

Causes of Chilblains

The common causes and risk factor's of Chilblains include the following:

  • An abnormal respond of the body to the cold.
  • A familial tendency and hormonal variations.
  • Peripheral vascular disease due to diabetes, smoking, hyperlipidaemia.
  • Elderly people having a poor circulation are at a greater risk.
  • Damp living conditions may also increase the risk for chilblains.
  • If the skin is chilled and then followed by too rapid warming such as a gas fire, a chilblain may develop.
  • The sudden onset of very cold water on the skin can also lead to a chilblain.

Symptoms of Chilblains

Some sign and symptoms related to Chilblains are as follows:
  • Finger skin inflammation.
  • Skin redness.
  • Painful burning or itching sensation on red patches on toes.
  • Skin bumps.
  • Blisters and ulcers (in severe cases).
  • Ulceration, in severe cases.
  • Dry skin, leading to splits and cracks.

Treatment of Chilblains

Here is list of the methods for treating Chilblains:

  • Potent topical steroid creams have been prescribed for a few days to relieve itching and swelling. Nightly application of these cortico-steroids under an plosive dressing has been reported to be effective.
  • Antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics may be important for secondary infection.
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed skin even on dull days.
  • Calamine lotion, or a similar lotion, will ease much of the discomfort of the itching.
  • Wear woollen or cotton socks.
  • Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone 40mg daily may be essential for some people and even parenteral corticosteroids for very severe cases.
  • In the summer and autumn months, keep the skin supple by scrubbing with soap and water using a soft brush, and drying with a rough towel to improve the texture of the skin.