Protect yourself from Chilblains

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Diseases & Prevention
Tags:
chilblains

Chilblains

Winter has arrived, and unfortunately this means many people will again start to suffer from irritating chilblains. It’s now time to take some proactive measures to ensure maximum relief from these itchy and red bumps that occur as a reaction to the cold.

Chilblains are small red and itchy bumps that form as a result of localised vasculitis, or inflammation of blood vessels. In cold conditions, blood vessels can close down in the hands and feet, and when rewarmed, leakage of blood from these vessels results in the painful and itchy chilblain sores that cause great discomfort.

The majority of chilblain sufferers are the young and elderly, but people who suffer from lupus erythematosus, peripheral vascular disease, low body weight and pregnant women are at a higher risk.

Chilblains commonly appear on the fingers and toes, but can also be found on the heels, lower legs, nose, ears and on the wrists of babies. Chilblains take between two to three hours to appear and commonly erupt as itchy red swellings that subside over one to two weeks. Occasionally blistering, scabs and ulceration will occur, with the added potential for infection.

Unfortunately, chilblains respond poorly to treatment and in severe cases topical corticosteroid cream like Prednisone may be used to relieve itching and swelling. Despite this, prevention is better than cure, and there are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of these irritating sores.

It’s important that sufferers avoid smoking, caffeine and decongestants as they cause constriction of blood vessels, which can exacerbate existing chilblains or result in the formation of new ones. Furthermore, avoidance of extreme cold, with insulated gloves, woollen socks and protective footwear is recommended.

Some medical practitioners will prescribe Nifedipine, a drug that helps dilate blood vessels and relieve chilblains, but the use of this medication would need to be discussed with your GP or registered health care provider first.

With chilblains tending to get worse every year, it’s important to take some proactive measures to prevent and relieve these painful sores. Through this, you’ll be able to gain relief and greater comfort both now and in the future.

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