Many people are familiar with frostbite, but few have heard of chilblains, which are the mildest form of cold injury and the most common. Chilblains occurs when the skin has been exposed to cold, wet and windy conditions and are seen more commonly in cold climates with high humidity.
Symptoms of chilblains include:
- Small, itchy red areas on your feet
- Swelling of your skin
- Burning sensation on your skin
- Changes in skin color from red to dark blue, accompanied by pain
- Possible ulceration
Symptoms dissipate when the seasons change and warmer weather arrives, though they may recur seasonally for years.
There are many risk factors besides cold exposure that can increase your chances of getting chilblains. They are as follows:
- Being female
- Being underweight
- Location. Chilblains actually are less likely to occur in colder and drier areas because living conditions and clothing used in these areas are more protective against cold. People that live in an area with high humidity and low temperatures are are a greater risk for getting chilblains.
- The time of year. Chilblains are more common from November to April.
- Improper fitting shoewear. Chilblains can result from or be aggravated by unusual pressure on your skin, such as tight shoes.
- Having poor circulation. People with poor circulation tend to be more sensitive to changes in temperature, making them more susceptible to chilblains.
- Having Raynaud's phenomenon.
Chilblains can be treated with corticosteroid creams, blood pressure medication and infection prevention.
We see many patients with chilblains this time of year, so please contact us if you are experiencing symptoms.