What Are Chilblains?

Our focus in this article is to discuss chilblains, some of the visible symptoms of this condition, and what causes it.

Skin conditions are unpleasant to deal with and can really hurt your self-confidence if you don’t deal with them appropriately. In this case, we’re going to focus on chilblains. This is a skin condition which is usually a result of staying in cold temperatures for too long, resulting in these small skin swellings.

Generally speaking, chilblains don’t require any medical attention and you will be able to treat it from home. That being said, in some severe cases, if the chilblains are persistent and worsen over time, you should make an appointment with your GP.

Symptoms of Chilblains

There aren’t many symptoms of chilblains although fortunately if you have them, it isn’t too difficult to recognise them.

Burning sensation. The worst symptom that you will experience if you have chilblains is a burning sensation. This sensation can cause your skin to be itchy and irritable, and may worsen when you go back indoors.

Blisters. While blisters only occur in very severe cases of chilblains, when you start scratching at the irritable skin you risk breaking it, and an infection could develop.

Given that chilblains are caused by very cold temperatures, if you’ve been out playing in the snow or have been using machinery outside while it’s cold, they will be noticeable within a few hours.

What Causes Chilblains?

Reiterating what we’ve discussed so far, the most common reason for chilblains happening is very cold temperatures, however, there are other causes. While it depends on your general health, if you have any of conditions from the detailed list below, you will be more at risk of chilblains than others.

– Lupus
– Eating unhealthily
– Being underweight
– Living in a damp and cold environment
– Poor blood circulation

These things will all contribute to your health in different ways although in this case, they can increase your chance of chilblains and even make their occurrences worse than they would otherwise be.

How to Treat Chilblains

Fortunately, chilblains can be left alone without any medical treatment and they will improve over a few weeks on their own. Most people will choose to use a moisturiser on the affected areas a few times a day to ease the irritability, and there are some over-the-counter products available which can also help. (Our ever popular Snowfire ointment stick is one of the most widely used winter remedies for Chilblains.)

Now, when chilblains have been a frequent problem with your skin and you find yourself struggling to deal with them, it’s time to seek medical attention. Severe cases like this will get worse over time and when you contact your GP, they will likely provide you with some form of medication to fight off the chilblains.

Can You Prevent Chilblains?

Chilblains aren’t something that can be easily prevented, especially if there is an underlying health condition which has been causing it. However, there are a few things which have proven to be helpful for reducing the chances of chilblains becoming a problem.

– Staying indoors whenever it is extremely cold outside.
– Taking care of your feet (e.g. keeping them clean, making sure that they are never too cold, etc).
– Exercising regularly to ensure proper blood circulation.

Now, when your body gets too cold your blood vessels get tighter, thus, restricting your blood flow. This is one of the main things that contribute to chilblains and to keep your blood vessels at a healthy width (which will ensure healthy blood circulation), there are a few steps that you can take.

– Avoid smoking at all costs (smoking has proven to lead to blood vessels tightening which not only leads to chilblains but can also result in heart problems).
– Circulation is important, especially in your feet, so avoid wearing any shoes that are too small and too tight for you.
– Turn up your thermometer during the Winter so that you don’t suffer in the cold temperatures.

By taking everything that we have listed above into consideration you are able to avoid chilblains, keep your skin undamaged, and if you ever have the unfortunate experience of chilblains, you’ll know how to deal with them.

Photo Credit:Jutta treating her feet” (CC BY 2.0) by Kai Hendry

Snowfire – Chilblains & Chapped Skin Ointment Stick

Snowfire – Chilblains & Chapped Skin Ointment Stick

You can't simply stay indoors throughout the entire freezing cold winter. Life doesn't stop when temperatures drop, so you have ...
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