What Is Chilblains

Those small itchy red patches that can appear on the toes and fingers after exposure to very cold temperatures are known as Chilblains, also known as Pernio.  They can be painful because small blood vessels become inflamed.  Chilblains typically clear up on their own within one to three weeks, or sooner if the weather gets warmer.  These can occur seasonally, especially if you have experienced them before.  Even though they don't typically result in permanent injury, keep an eye on them because you don't want them to worsen and become infected. 


Signs Of Chilblains

Chilblains are areas of skin that can appear swollen and red, but they can occasionally be blue, depending on the severity of swelling.  They will typically appear a few hours after being in the cold and they appear on the fingers and toes, although you can get them on your ears and legs as well.  Symptoms can include:

  • Possible blistering or skin ulcers
  • Swelling of the skin
  • Small red, itchy patches on the toes and fingers
  • Changes in skin color from red to blue (accompanied by pain or more intense itching)
  • Burning sensation
What Causes Chilblains

Medical professionals are not entirely sure why Chilblains occur, but the theory is that it is the body's unusual reaction to cold weather exposure followed by instant rewarming.  When you warm the skin, small blood vessels under the skin expand more rapidly than the surrounding larger blood vessels can handle.  This creates somewhat of a bottleneck effect that can cause blood to leak into nearby tissues and result in inflamed red patches.  Possible risk factors and causes can include:

  • Your sex (women are 20% more likely to experience Chilblains than men are)
  • Circulation problems
  • Wearing tight clothing and shoes in cold weather
  • Rapidly heating toes or fingers immediately after cold exposure
  • Raynaud's disease
  • Autoimmune disorders (Lupus is commonly associated with Chilblains)

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • Since poor circulation is a contributing factor to the development of Chilblains, it is best if you quit smoking, since smoking is a primary contributor to poor circulation.  
  • Another way to combat Chilblains is by eating foods that help to naturally improve circulation.  You need healthy circulation to stimulate cell growth and ensure that oxygen is delivered to all areas of the body.  Great foods to improve circulation include green tea, ginkgo biloba, walnuts, almonds, watermelon, citrus fruits, kiwis, guavas, cayenne pepper, and turmeric.  
  • You can also use circulatory herbs to help strengthen blood vessels, veins, and capillaries.  A great homemade herbal tea is a combination of three parts prickly ash bark, three parts hawthorn berries, and one part ginger.  Take one teaspoon of this mixture and add it to a mesh tea bag or tea strainer.  Place this in a cup and pour one cup of boiling water into the cup.  Allow the tea to steep for 10-15 minutes.  Drink one cup three times daily.
  • Chilblains can crack, which can worsen the itching sensation.  If they remain unbroken, it can be beneficial to apply a cayenne salve on the Chilblains.  Cayenne works to stimulate blood flow, but it also blocks pain signals from going to the brain, so it may reduce the pain you are experiencing. 
  • If you were exposed to very cold weather, do not rewarm your hands and feet by putting them directly in front of a heat source.  The rapid shift in temperature can cause the development of Chilblains.  In stead, it is better to warm the entire body and remove any clothing items that are damp.  Don cotton clothing that is loose-fitting and warm the body.
  • While it isn't the best smelling remedy, onion juice has powerful properties that can help reduce the inflammation associated with Chilblains.  Onion juice also helps to remedy damaged blood vessels and reduce pain.  Apply fresh onion juice to the affected areas to reap the benefits. 
  • To help naturally warm up the affected areas after cold exposure, you can apply mustard oil, which has a warming affect.  Regularly apply mustard oil to the Chilblains to help reduce inflammation, itching, and pain.
  • If you are extremely bothered by the burning sensation of Chilblains, it is wise to apply fresh aloe vera to the affected areas.  The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties can help accelerate recovery time.  After developing Chilblains, you should apply aloe vera three times a day to experience the best results. 
Things you should eat
  • Citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, limes, & lemons)
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Green Tea
  • Turmeric
  • Kefir
  • Kiwis
  • Watermelon
  • Guavas
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Gingko Biloba
  • Hawthorn Berry
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Coconut Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Raw Honey
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