Chilblains are the painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air. Chilblains can cause itching, red patches, swelling and blistering on your hands and feet.
Chilblains usually clear up within 1 to 3 weeks, especially if the weather gets warmer, but there may have seasonal recurrences. Chilblains don’t usually result in permanent injury, but the condition can lead to infection, which may cause severe damage if left untreated.
What Causes Chilblains?
No one knows exactly what causes them. They may be an abnormal reaction of your body to cold exposure followed by rewarming.
Rewarming of cold skin can cause small blood vessels under the skin to expand more quickly than nearby larger blood vessels can handle. This results in a bottleneck effect and the blood leaking into nearby tissues.
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Treatment and Prevention
Treatment is by means of protecting yourself from the cold and using warming creams to ease the symptoms. Ask at We Fix Feet clinics for suitable creams.
Avoid developing Chilblains by limiting your exposure to cold, by dressing warmly and covering exposed skin. To prevent:
- keep the affected areas warm, but not too hot (never use a hot water bottle directly on your skin).
- avoid or limit your exposure to cold
- dress in layers of loose clothing, wear mittens & warm, water-resistant footwear
- cover all exposed skin as completely as possible when going outside in cold weather
- keep your hands, feet & face dry & warm
- keep your workplace & home comfortably warm
If your skin is exposed to cold, it’s helpful to rewarm it gradually because sudden rewarming of cold skin may make your chilblains worse.