Chilblains are a skin condition characterized by itching, swelling, and redness around the fingers and toes and the outer extremities of the body.
This generally happens when the individual is exposed to extreme cold and sub-zero temperatures. The onset is gradual with severe exposure to cold weather conditions and tends to strike people who do not wear warm and restrictive clothing. The cold damages the capillaries of the toes and fingers and this causes the skin to get inflamed.
Symptoms Of Chilblains
The primary symptoms of chilblains are acute swelling, itching, redness, ulceration and discolouration of the affected area. The areas prone to chilblains are the ear lobes, finger tips and toes. In severe cases the person might experience acute pain and sensitivity. The skin may also become dry and flaky with excessive itching and scratching. The area affected by chilblains worsens when exposed to sudden warmth.
Causes Of Chilblains
The causes behind chilblains are varied. Some physicians opine that it is indicative of a deeper medical problem like connective tissue disorder. Fluctuating hormone levels may affect blood circulation to the capillaries and may cause them to become swollen and inflamed. Chilblains are seen in children and people who have a poor coping response to cold weather conditions. Chilblains may or may not run in families. Butchers cutting meat in cold temperatures and frequently washing hands with hot water are also more susceptible to chilblains.
Treatment For Chilblains
Treatment for chilblains can be allopathic and home based. The redness and swelling can be curtailed with the help of some topical anti-itch creams. Apply some Calamine lotion. The lotion soothes and gives instant relief against itchy and red skin. People with chilblains should try and keep their toes and fingers warm by wearing protective clothing like gloves, mittens and woolen socks.
Avoid itching. The itching can be severe and one is tempted to scratch but scratching may cause the area to become painfully inflamed and tender.
Home Remedies For Chilblains
You can locally apply some warm ghee or clarified butter to keep the area moisturized and reduce itching. A little bit of Vaseline or lanolin may also help. Dip your feet in warm water which contains pieces of turnip and salt. It is known to give instant relief from itching and restores blood circulation to the affected capillaries. Alternately, apply some honey with glycerin and leave it on for 2-3 hours. Wash it off. You need to do this at least 2-3 times in a day to get maximum benefits.
Preventive Measures For Chilblains
The first and foremost step in preventing chilblains is to keep oneself adequately clothed and stay warm. Make use of fireplaces and heaters. Do not venture out in cold weather especially if it rains. Remove wet and damp clothes and socks immediately. A little bit of exercise on a daily basis keeps the body warm and supple and ensures ample blood circulation to the lower extremities of the body. Protect your ears by wearing scarves, mufflers and woolen caps. Butchers and people working in wet conditions should wear warm, waterproof gloves to protect them from the harsh effects of the cold. Vasodilator medicines can be taken as prescribed by the doctor.