Chilblains

Definition

Chilblains (or pernio as they are medically known) are small, painful, red and itchy swellings on the skin, occurring due to exposure to cold. They can be found on toes, fingers, the face and ears.

Causes

Chilblains are caused by the skins abnormal reaction to the cold. People with poor circulation are more prone to developing chilblains.


Risk Factors:

  • Sex- Women are more prone to chilblains
  • Environment and Season- In Cold and Winter months chilblains are most likely to occur
  • People with poor circulation are at risk of Chilblains
  • If you have been diagnosed with Raynauds you are more at risk of developing Chilblains
  • Tight fitting clothes

Symptoms

  • Small, red and itchy area of skin, usually on the toes or hands
  • Swelling of the skin
  • Burning sensation of the skin which can be intensified when entering a warm room
  • Change in colour from red to blue, with pain
  • Possible blistering and breaks in the skin which can lead to infection

Treatment

Prevention is always better than cure, so it is important to keep feet warm in wintertime if you have poor circulation or are prone to chilblains.


  • Limit exposure to cold
  • Wear loose clothing in layers and water resistant footwear
  • Rewarm your skin gradually as exposure to sudden heat can worsen chilblains

If chilblains do occur:

  • Keep hands and feet warm
  • Avoid scratching
  • Apply Soothing lotion like calamine
  • If ulcer occurs apply antiseptic dressing.

When to see a Podiatrist

If you are concerned or need advice about chilblains see an HCPC registered Podiatrist.