Chilblains refer to red and painful skin inflammation that is brought about by the abrupt warming of the skin after being exposed to cold, but not freezing, temperatures. This causes the blood vessels to rapidly go from being contracted to dilated, causing some of the blood to leak into the surrounding tissues.
There are many parts of the body that can be affected, including most especially those that are commonly exposed such as the ears, nose, fingers, hands, toes and feet. Other than being swollen, affected areas of the body also tend to feel itchy and sometimes have a burning sensation.
One of the biggest problems with chilblains is an infection may strike. You see, severe cases of chilblains can cause some blisters to form. These blisters may become infected if they break open, such as when they’re scratched. It is very much possible for skin ulcerations to develop when those blisters become infected.
Just about anyone can have chilblains, but they are more commonly observed in the elderly and children. People with poor blood circulation and have relatives prone to chilblains are at risk, too. Excessive cigarette smoking, low body weight as well as having poor eating habits are regarded as risk factors.
Chilblains usually heal in 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the severity. In cases where it takes a long time to heal, a doctor may recommend the application of topical corticosteroids. Sometimes blood pressure lowering medications are prescribed to have the healing process accelerated.
There are numerous ways to deal with chilblains naturally. Some of the best ones include:
- Onions. Slices of onions may be rubbed on areas affected by chilblains 2 to 3 times per day. This helps reduce inflammation as well as itching.
- Garlic. Another very common herb that is proven effective against chilblains is garlic. Crush a few cloves of it and rub on problem areas several times a day. Adding garlic to the diet is also a great idea.
- Potatoes. For relief, a couple of potatoes may be boiled in water. Once at room temperature, parts of the body with chilblains may be soaked in it for a few minutes.
- Calendula. An age-old remedy for chilblains is calendula. You may get your hands on calendula ointment at a pharmacy, or soak affected areas in water (allowed to cool) where calendula flowers were boiled.
- Aloe vera. The gel inside an aloe vera leaf has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, and that’s why it makes for an excellent home remedy for chilblains.
- Massage. Regularly massaging the area using your favorite massage oil that is slightly warmed can also accelerate the healing process.
- Protection. Last but not least, keep body parts with chilblains from exposure to low temperatures. As much as possible, have the affected areas elevated.