ABC Medical Center > Chilblains

What is Chilblains?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition caused by constant exposure to cold air that produces inflammation of the blood vessels in the skin, causing the appearance of reddish spots and blisters on the feet and hands, which cause pain, itching, and burning. In more extreme cases, it can cause an infection that must be treated promptly to avoid irreversible damage.

It is unknown what causes chilblains, but everything indicates that it is due to a reaction of the body to the cold with subsequent overheating that rapidly dilates the small skin blood vessels, causing a decrease in blood in the affected areas. There is a higher incidence in women.

Chilblains are also known as perniosis and, according to medical research, there are several conditions that favor their appearance, such as:

  • Arthritis.
  • Vasculitis.
  • Low body weight.
  • Circulatory problems
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothing and shoes in cold weather.
  • Living in cold and humid areas.
  • Lupus.
  • Raynaud’s disease.

Signs and symptoms Chilblains

The characteristic symptoms are:

  • Inflammation.
  • Pain.
  • Burning.
  • Blisters.
  • Changes in skin tone.
  • Reddish spots
  • Itch.

If you detect any of these symptoms, you must see your doctor to assess you and avoid serious complications.

Diagnosis and treatment Chilblains

Through a skin check and analysis of your medical history and your symptoms, your doctor can diagnose chilblains without the need for tests but may require additional tests, such as a skin biopsy, to make sure there are no other conditions in the dermis that can worsen the case. They may also perform tests to measure your circulatory capacity.

Treatment consists of keeping yourself warm by covering your hands and feet with gloves and socks to prevent their formation, as well as using lotions to help control symptoms.

If chilblains don’t heal with these measures, your doctor may prescribe drugs to dilate your blood vessels and improve your circulation, as well as topical corticosteroids to treat the lesions.

Chilblains usually go away on their own in one to three weeks. However, they tend to emerge again in cold weather, so you can help control their formation by following these recommendations:

  • Keep your home warm and dry.
  • Wear warm clothing and do not leave bare skin when you go out.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit as much as possible your exposure to cold and humidity.
  • Keep hands and feet warm and dry.

At the ABC Medical Center Internal Medicine Department we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies, of chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • García ACB, Guzmán PMG, Gallegos GAC, et al. Sabañones en la consulta privada en épocas de COVID-19: a propósito de dos casos. Acta Med. 2021;19(Suppl: 1):s73-75. doi:10.35366/101032.

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