Chilblains occur several hours after being exposed to the cold. You may get just one chilblain but often several develop. They may join together to form a larger swollen, red area of skin.

Chilblains are very itchy. A burning sensation is also typical.
They are usually red at first but may become purple.
Pain and tenderness over the chilblains often develop.
In some cases the skin over a chilblain may blister which may delay healing.
Occasionally, the skin breaks down to leave a small ulcer which is prone to infection.

Can you prevent chilblains?

If you are prone to chilblains then trying to prevent them by doing the following is sensible:

Keep your hands and feet warm when out in cold weather by using warm gloves and socks. Consider special heated gloves and socks if chilblains are a recurring problem.
Keep your head and ears warm by wearing a hat and scarf.
You should keep as warm as possible in the cold. Wearing several loose layers is ideal to trap body heat. You should also keep as dry as possible.
After being out in the cold, do not heat the skin quickly with hot water bottles, etc. Gradually warm up.
Side-effects to some medicines may narrow (constrict) tiny blood vessels. This may be enough to make you prone to recurring chilblains. For example, beta-blockers can have this effect. Tell your doctor if you become prone to chilblains following starting any medication.

What is the treatment for chilblains?

Although chilblains are uncomfortable, they do not usually cause any permanent damage. They will usually heal on their own if further exposure to the cold is avoided.

Keep the affected areas warm. This means staying out of the cold, or wearing warm gloves, socks, etc, when outdoors.
No other treatment is normally needed, as they usually go away by themselves.
A range of creams and lotions can be bought from a pharmacy. However, there is no evidence that any of these are of benefit so they are therefore not recommended.
Steroid creams are no longer recommended for the treatment (or prevention) of chilblains.
If you smoke then you should try to stop, as smoking can make chilblains worse.
Medication is sometimes used to prevent chilblains in people who have recurring chilblains. A medicine called nifedipine can open wide (dilate) the small blood vessels and may help to prevent chilblains.

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Keywords: Chilblains,cold, swollen, itchy,skin , healing,infection, warm gloves, socks, hat , scarf, water bottles,blood vessels, beta-blockers, doctor , creams , medicine , nifedipine