What causes chilblains?
Chilblains are usually idiopathic, meaning that their cause is unknown. But some cases are thought to be caused by a problem with the blood vessels that constrict in response to cold temperatures.
On rare occasions chilblains can be caused by other disorders such as lupus, or blood conditions such as leukaemia. Poor circulation and low body weight can also be risk factors.
What are the symptoms of chilblains?
The ‘trademark’ symptom of chilblains is the red or purple patches on your skin, particularly on your extremities, such as your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. These patches can be itchy, uncomfortable, and even painful.
Can chilblains lead to other problems?
Chilblains can become infected if your skin is broken, this is why it’s important to soothe your skin as much as possible by using lotion or Balmosa cream. Rubbing your skin to heat it up and applying direct heat can also lead to chilblains breaking. Scratching is a big factor too, so try to avoid doing this where possible. Most products that soothe the skin will help you to resist the urge.
If you notice any signs of infection, such as swelling, a burning sensation, changes in the colour of the chilblains, blistering, ulcers, and pain, you should contact your clinician as soon as possible so you can get treatment.
Chronic chilblains can sometimes cause scarring of the skin, as well as a permanent change in the skin tone of the affected area.