Winter season surely seems interesting for us people that live in the tropical country as it makes us think of the fun in the snow and the cold temperature. As entertaining as it sounds to us, this definitely does not ring fun for those experiencing medical conditions that can easily be affected by the cold season or temperature. In this DoctorOnCall’s article, we will be talking about a disease that is typically triggered by the cold conditions called the chilblains.
Chilblains are a common condition characterised by small, itchy and painful lumps of the skin due to the abnormal response towards cold. The cold temperature leads to reduction of blood flowing to the skin as a response to help the body conserve the body heat. Chilblains could be likely to happen in this condition to those already with Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition of blood flow decreased greatly in small blood vessels such as in fingers and toes. Chilblains are also linked to those with systemic lupus erythematosus and HIV. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for chilblains as long as they are being in the cold or damp for far too long and not wearing proper protection against such temperature.
Chilblains may develop several hours after getting exposed to cold. Initially, the chilblains can be seen in a white or slightly bluish appearance of the finger and toes. Later on, a person will experience burning and itching of the lumps formed on the affected area. Affected skin may swell and turn red or dark blue. In some severe cases, the skin may become sore or blisters. This can make the chilblains easily infected when it is not treated well.
Most cases of chilblains do not need specific treatment as it may actually resolve on its own in less than two weeks even without treatment. However, since chilblains can greatly cause great discomfort to patients, getting relief would be a great deal. One of the most important things to do and firstly need to be done for those experiencing chilblains is to make sure to warm up the affected area slowly and to protect the body from cold. Wearing layered warm clothes, gloves, socks and not directly warm the affected area in hot water or hot surfaces such as radiator. Using soothing lotion such as calamine can help ease the chilblains symptoms.
As mentioned, chilblains are caused by the blood vessels’ poor reaction towards the cold. By helping the blood circulation to become better, a person may actually benefit from treatment of improving the blood circulation. Some patients may be prescribed with drugs such as calcium channel blocker like the nifedipine to help relax the blood vessels and widen it so that the blood can flow better to the skin. Doctors may prescribe topical corticosteroids such as mometasone or betamethasone cream to help relieve the chilblains. Patients are advised to stop smoking as this can greatly aid with the healing process of the chilblains. Caffeinated drinks should also be avoided as it can affect the blood flow.
Chilblains have also been linked with certain vitamin deficiency that is associated with poor blood circulation such as lack of vitamin B12. Hence, taking supplements may benefit those in search of improving the body blood circulation system. Aside from taking vitamin B12, vitamin B3 in forms of nicotinamide and minerals such as calcium and magnesium has been proved to help maintain a healthy blood circulation. All in all, getting medical attention is the best way to understand this disease if a person already exhibits symptoms of chilblains and is not sure what to do next.