What Are Chilblains?

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Chilblains are small blood vessels in your skin that have become painfully inflamed and irritated after repeated exposure to cold (but not freezing) temperatures. Oddly enough, people in areas where the temperature drops below freezing have little problem with this disease.

This condition shows up as red blotches on the skin with itching, swelling and possibly blisters evident, and most often appears on the hands and feet. For some unfortunate sufferers, chilblains can become chronic and show up every year when the weather turns cold.

Signs and symptoms of chilblains

  • Red, inflamed, itchy blotches on the skin, particularly in the hands and feet
  • Skin color shifting from red to a darker blue as the chilblain attack unfolds
  • Blisters or ulcers will often appear during a chilblain episode
  • You may feel like your skin is on fire

Risk factors for developing chilblains include

  • Geographic location—Those living in areas of high humidity with temperatures that are low but not quite freezing may be more susceptible.
  • Women are at risk—Adult females are more prone to this condition as compared to men and children.
  • Diseases—Such as diabetes and any condition that causes poor blood circulation can also increase the likelihood.
  • Poorly fitting shoes—And some clothes such as skin-tight gloves have been shown to cause chilblains, especially in a cold and damp environment.

Chilblains will usually clear up on its own when there is a break in the cold, damp weather. Patients who have diabetes should be extra careful when this condition occurs on their feet due to the possibility of blistering and an infection developing and spreading, perhaps leading to an amputation.

If you are suffering with complications from chilblains or for any other problem you are having with your feet and ankles, see your foot doctor right away. Dr. Scott Nelson of Foot and Ankle Medical Clinic in Garland, TX, is a board-certified and highly experienced podiatrist who has helped people suffering from all types of foot and ankle injuries and deformities. From bunions, to diabetic foot problems, sports injuries and fungal nails, you can trust that Dr. Nelson and his staff are wholeheartedly devoted to your foot health. Please contact our office with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment by calling 972-414-9800.