Chilblains: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatments

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Chilblains, also known as pernio, are a common condition that affects the skin, particularly in colder climates. They are characterized by small, itchy, and painful red or purple bumps that typically appear on the fingers, toes, ears, and nose. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and treatments for chilblains.


Chilblains occur when the small blood vessels in the skin become irritated after exposure to cold temperatures. The exact cause is not fully understood, but it is believed that the sudden warming of cold skin can lead to inflammation and damage to the blood vessels. Other factors that may contribute to the development of chilblains include poor circulation, tight footwear, and a family history of the condition.


The symptoms of chilblains can vary from person to person, but common signs include:

  • Red or purple bumps on the skin
  • Itching and burning sensation
  • Tenderness and swelling
  • Blistering or ulceration in severe cases

These symptoms typically appear a few hours after exposure to cold temperatures and can last for several weeks.


Chilblains can usually be diagnosed based on the characteristic appearance of the skin lesions and a history of exposure to cold temperatures. In some cases, a healthcare professional may perform a skin biopsy to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.


Preventing chilblains involves taking steps to protect your skin from cold temperatures and promoting good circulation. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  • Keep your body warm by dressing in layers and wearing warm socks and gloves.
  • Avoid sudden temperature changes, such as going from a cold outdoor environment to a heated room.
  • Wear properly fitting footwear that allows for good circulation.
  • Keep your home and work environments warm and well-insulated.
  • Avoid smoking, as it can further impair circulation.

By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing chilblains.


If you do develop chilblains, there are several treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms and promote healing. These include:

  • Applying warm, not hot, water or a warm compress to the affected areas to improve circulation and relieve itching.
  • Using over-the-counter creams or lotions containing corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and itching.
  • Avoiding scratching or rubbing the affected areas to prevent further irritation and potential infection.
  • Keeping the affected areas elevated to reduce swelling.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing and footwear to minimize pressure on the affected areas.
  • Using medications prescribed by a healthcare professional, such as calcium channel blockers, to improve circulation.

In most cases, chilblains will heal on their own within a few weeks. However, if you experience severe or persistent symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment.

In conclusion, chilblains are a common condition that can be uncomfortable and itchy. By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and treatments for chilblains, you can take steps to protect your skin and promote healing. Remember to always consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.


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