Signs and symptoms of chilblains may include:
- Small, itchy red areas on your skin, often on your feet or hands
- Swelling of your skin
- Burning feeling on your skin
- Blistering or skin ulcers
- Changes in skin color from red to dark blue, accompanied by pain
No one knows the exact causes behind the chilblains.
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. This results in a bottleneck effect and the blood leaking into nearby tissues.
You generally won’t need to see your doctor for chilblains. If you do visit your doctor, he or she will be able to diagnose your skin condition by looking at it. And they may talk with you about your recent cold exposure. The exam might also include:
- Circulation check
- skin biopsy ( to rule out other causes for your signs and symptoms)
Chilblains usually clear up in one to three weeks after cold exposure. In the meantime, there are also steps for you to ease your signs and symptoms:
- Rewarming affected skin gently, without massaging, rubbing or applying direct heat
- Avoiding cold exposure
- Applying lotion to alleviate itching
- Making sure the affected skin is cleaned with an antiseptic and gently bandaged to prevent infection
- Keeping your affected skin dry and warm, but away from sources of heat
- Avoiding scratching
For adults whose chilblains don’t clear up with home remedies, treatment may include prescription drugs:
- Topical corticosteroid.
- Blood pressure medicine. It can help open up blood vessels.
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