Also known as pernio or perniosis, a chilblain is an abnormal skin reaction to cold or damp weather in humid climates. The toes, fingers, nose and ears are the areas commonly affected.
It is painful swelling that also has red, burning and itching feelings that are intensified when coming in from the cold.
What happens in Chilblains?
Chilblains is a medical condition that is often confused with frostbite and trench foot. Chilblains are acral ulcers (that is, ulcers affecting the extremities) that occur when a predisposed individual is exposed to cold and humidity. The cold exposure damages capillary beds in the skin, which in turn can cause redness, itching, blisters, and inflammation. The skin may also break down over the swelling which may become infected. The toes, fingers, nose and ears are most common areas for appearance.
What causes Chilblains?
Chilblains are often idiopathic in origin but can be manifestations of serious medical conditions that need to be investigated.
- Poor peripheral circulation.
• Poor general health.
• Vasomotor irritability.
- Fat, phlegmatic subject.
- Thin, highly strung, nervous subjects.
Clinical Features of Chilblains
- Acute in onset
- Usually affects peripheral sites of the body like Toes, fingers, ears, tip of nose etc.
- Inflammation and redness of the affected area.
- Intense, distressing itching and burning pain.
- Worse from sudden change from cold to hot atmosphere.
- Ulceration of the fingers and toes.
- Parts become dusky red, cold.
- Bilaterally symmetrical.
- Oedema of affected parts.
- Heals with change of weather.
- Mild desquamation occurs at site of lesion.
- Brownish mark left on resolution.
Complications of Chilblains
- Ulceration of the lesions.
- Secondary infection of the lesion
General management of Chilblains
- Avoid exposure to cold.
• Keep feet, hands warm by wearing warm shoes & gloves.
• Improve general health.
• Wash hands with warm water.
• Thorough drying after washing.
Prevention of Chilblains
- Avoid rapid changes in temperature.
• Wear gloves or socks.
• Use warm footwear.
• Keep area warm.
• Avoid scratching.
• Keep hands and feet warm.
- Healthy diet.
• High doses of vitamin K.
• Avoid alcohol before going out in snow.
Homeopathy Treatment & Homeopathic Remedies for Chilblains
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat chilblains but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several medicines are available for chilblains treatment that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensation, modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are some specific homeopathic remedies which have remarkable action on chilblains:
- Nitric acid
- Heper sulph
- Rhus –tox
- Secale cor
- Zincum met
- Sulphuric acid
- Arsenic album
- Arnica Montana
- The characteristic is sensation of itching in the lesion.
- Loose & flabby skin.
- Skin becomes purplish after suppression of eruptions.
- This is especially indicated in persons with tendency towards marasmus.
- In general worse by cold air, wet weather.
Alternate constipation and diarrhea: lienteria.
- Marasmus of children with marked emaciation, especially of legs; the skin is flabby and hangs loose in folds.
- Burning, itching, redness & swelling as if frozen.
- Itching change place on scratching. Pricking as from needles.
- Chilblains more painful during cold weather, freezing air.
- Worse after alcohol.
Old people, with weak, indolent circulation.
- Chilblains, that itch and burn intolerably; frostbite and all consequences of exposure to cold, especially in face.
- Extreme dryness of the skin.
- Withered, witted, wrinkled skin. Tendency to develop whitish pimples with red areola.
- Slightest injury suppurates.
- Fear of downward motion in nearly all complaints.
- Tendency to develop chilblains after an injury with formation of ulcers with excessive secretion of pus.
- The surrounding part is red. The pain in the chilblains tend to become worse at night.
External wounds with or without loss of substance; torn and jagged looking wounds; post-surgical operations; to promote healthy granulation and prevent excessive suppuration and disfiguring scars.
- Traumatic and idiopathic neuroma; neuritis from lacerated wounds; exhausted from loss of blood and excessive pain.
- Rupture of muscles or tendons; lacerations during labor; wounds penetrating articulations with loss of synovial fluids.
- Wounds: with sudden pain during febrile heat; constitutional tendency to erysipelas; old, neglected, offensive, threatening gangrene.
- The skin is extremely sensitive to cold air.
- Tendency to develop deep cracks with chilblains.
- Better by warm application, warm wraps & heat.
- Worse in cold air, winter & cold application.
- Easy suppuration developing in chilblains.
The slightest injury causes suppuration.
- Oversensitive, physically and mentally; the slightest cause irritates him; quick, hasty speech and hasty drinking.
- Patient is peevish, angry at the least trifle, unreasonably anxious.
- Extremely sensitive to cold air, imagines he can feel the air if a door is opened in the next room; must be wrapped up to the face even in hot weather; cannot bear to be uncovered; takes cold from slightest exposure to fresh air.
- Chilblain with bluish-red or bluish-black discoloration round it.
- Chilblains tend to develop ulceration leading to gangrene.
- Severe burning sensation worse at night & during sleep.
- Chilblains are very sensitive to touch.
- Chilblains bleed easily & copiously.
- Severe excoriation of the affected part.
- Better adapted to thin and emaciated than to fleshy persons; to those who have been changed, both mentally and physically, by their illness.
- Itching chilblains with chapped hands & feet.
- Slightest injury on the chilblains tends to suppurate.
- Severe excoriation of the affected part.
- Itching sensation, moist discharge comes out which is very acrid.
- In general there is aggravation of symptoms from warmth of bed.
- Symptoms appear and disappear rapidly.
- Vertigo on rising as if intoxicated; like seasickness.
- Chilblains with severe burning sensation.
- The affected part looks red, indurated & swollen.
- Formation of deep corroding, ulcers with offensive discharge.
- Itching is worse by warmth & better by cold.
- Voluptuous itching sensation.
- Burning sensation sensitive to air & wind & washing.
- Chilblains alternate with various other bodily complaints.
- Skin is dry rough chapped.
- Offensive odour of skin, worse at night in bed, scratching & washing.
Persons of nervous temperament, quick motioned, quick tempered, plethoric, skin excessively sensitive to atmospheric changes.
- Standing is the worst position for sulphur patients; they cannot stand; every standing position is uncomfortable.
- Dirty, filthy people, prone to have skin affections.
- Aversion to being washed, always worse after a bath.