How can I alleviate chilblains?

Suffer chilblains in your hands and feet during the winter, despite wearing gloves and thermal socks? Amy Baker from Scleroderma & Raynaud's UK (SRUK) explains how to prevent and treat them

Chilblains in the feet by Sapp [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Chilblains (sometimes called perniosis) are small, itchy swellings on the skin that occur as a reaction to cold temperatures. They most often affect the body’s extremities, such as the toes, fingers, heels, ears and nose, and can be uncomfortable and itchy. For people diagnosed with Raynaud’s they can be a common occurrence.


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To prevent chilblains it’s advised to keep warm by dressing in layers of loose clothing, wearing water-resistant footwear and covering all exposed skin when going outside. Limit exposure to the cold and avoid smoking and caffeine. If you’re outside, keep your core body temperature up by wearing thermal clothing and moving your body.

If you do get them avoid scratching, as this can cause infection. If you struggle, try applying lotion such as E45 cream to alleviate the itch. Rewarming the skin slowly without massaging, rubbing or applying direct heat will help. Move inside to a warm area to allow the skin to warm up gently. Continue to keep the affected area of skin dry and warm to help the skin heal.


Chilblains usually clear up within 1-3 weeks after cold exposure, but if your chilblains are lasting longer, show signs of infection or you’re experiencing frequent chilblains, go and see your GP.

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