Chilblains are known as a vasospastic condition in which the skin becomes inflamed, accompanied by burning and itching. The correct medical name for chilblains is Pernio. Chilblains usually occur on the toes of the foot . Chilblains are a painful reaction of the small blood vessels in the skin when exposed to cold temperatures. The cold causes constriction of the small blood vessels in the skin and if re-warming of the skin happens too rapidly, there is leakage of blood and fluids into the tissues as the blood vessels do not respond quickly enough to this re-warming  A chilblain may also occur on a pressure bearing area such as a bunion. Chilblains are painful but they cause little or no permanent impairment. Chilblains are usually caused by an abnormal reaction of the body to the cold. People who have poor circulation, an inadequate diet, or an allergic response to low temperatures are vulnerable to chilblains. Some of the most common symptoms of chilblains are  an itchy, Painful lesion burning sensations at location of the chilblain. A chilblain usually looks like a red, swollen lesion. If it dries out, it will leave cracks in the skin. If skin has cracks in it, it is more vulnerable to infection. The usual way of developing chilblains is by rapidly warming the foot. For example coming inside on a really cold day and toasting your feet in front of the fire. It is the rapid warming that sets the mechanism that creates chilblains off.

Contributing factors include a familial tendency, Peripheral vascular disease due to diabetes, smoking, hyperlipidaemia, Poor nutrition example anorexia nervosa.

If you suffer from chilblains it is well worth seeing your Podiatrist for advice and treatment.





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Page last updated 14 October, 2007