Chilblains are the bluish-purple swollen discolorations that occur most commonly on extremities that have bee: exposed to the cold, such as the fingers, toes, ears (lobes mainly), and possibly end of the nose. It is due to altered circulation of the blood. Cold causes superficial blockage.
Chilblains result from exposure to cold vessels to constrict. Therefore, the deoxygenated blood in the tissues become bluish and fresh blood is not able to get adequate access to the affected parts. In cities universally centrally heated such as in the United States, chilblains are a rarity. But in cold places where this is not the case, they are very prevalent such as in the United Kingdom.
During winter weather, it is more common and in the cooler southern areas. In moderate climates, chilblains are almost entirely preventable by wearing sensible clothing, and avoiding prolonged periods of time in very cold situations. In severe instances, the burning itch chilblains may lead to blistering and ulceration. Sometimes urgent attention is needed, but this is unusual.
Sensible clothing and habit will prevent most cases. Wear warm woollen gloves in winter, adequate warm dressing and earmuffs or some similar clothes if exposed to very cold climate, and under protective headgear usually reduces the risks. Warm affected parts. Bring the parts to adequate room temperature slowly avoid rubbing as this may aggravate the discomfort.
Preparations containing vitamins K and C, and nicotinic acid are claimed to assist, but their value is dubious. Similarly, so-called vasodilator drugs have fallen from favour, and are not recommended. Simple protective and common sense measures are usually adequate. Guard against injury. It is advisable to take extra precautions not to injure areas where there are chilblains, as healing may be delayed.