Chilblain is basically a response to the quick warming of the skin after exposure to extremely cold temperature. Once the skin is exposed to the cold, the blood vessels will constrict. If the blood vessels are warmed at a quick rate, they will expand as a response to the heat. As a result, the blood vessels on the affected area will become swollen or inflamed.
Once an individual develops chilblain, the skin becomes very itchy and red-colored at the affected area. In some cases, a chilblain can also become bluish in color, almost similar to a bruise. Take note that the affected area can become swollen, painful and there is pressure at the affected area. The moment chilblain dries up, the skin will become cracked which will only increase the risk for developing an infection. Even though chilblains typically occur on the toes, they can also occur on the fingers and face.
Factors that increases the development of chilblain
If an individual is constantly exposed to cold temperature, it can result to the development of chilblain. Always bear in mind that chilblains tend to occur more often among women than men. Those who have poor circulation are susceptible to chilblains.
It is also common for chilblain to develop if pressure is applied on the skin. A good example is wearing overly tight shoes. The compression caused by the shoe will lead to the further constriction of the blood vessels which will then develop into chilblain.
Treatment for chilblain
There are first aid measures that you can perform in order to treat chilblain. You can apply corticosteroid creams for the itchiness. The doctor might prescribe a medication that will release the constriction of the blood vessels. If the skin is broken, you have to keep the affected area clean and apply dressing to prevent infection from developing. You can also apply ointments to the affected area to minimize the chances of getting an infection. In case infection develops, the doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics.
How to prevent chilblain
When going outside during cold weather, it is important to dress properly and as much as possible limit the time spent outdoors. If it is required to go outdoors, always wear thick gloves and socks since they serve as insulators against the cold. Additionally, it is also vital to avoid any triggers that can cause the blood vessels to constrict such as decongestants and caffeine.
When to consult a doctor
Even though chilblains can resolve on their own, there are some cases in which medical care might be required. If the individual starts to experience fever and chills that do not subside for several days and broken skin that oozes pus, it is best to consult a doctor. These indicate that an infection has developed.
If there is pain that is severe and could not be relieved or the symptoms do not improve within two weeks, consult a doctor.