People living in a cold and humid climate definitely know about chilblains. It is a medical condition that occurs due to sudden warming of the skin after exposure to cold temperatures.
The sudden change in temperature causes the blood vessels to quickly expand, leading to leakage of blood into the nearby tissues.
Chilblains can affect different body parts, such as the feet, toes, hands, fingers, ears, earlobes and nose. Some symptoms are a burning sensation, intense itching, redness on the affected area, pain, swelling, inflammation, and dryness. In severe cases, blisters may appear on the affected area and infection and ulceration can also set in.
This problem can affect people of any age, but it is more common in children and elderly people. The condition also affects more women than men. Other risk factors include poor circulation, a family history of chilblains, a poor diet, low body weight and excessive smoking.
In most cases, chilblains will heal on its own within 1 to 3 weeks when further exposure to cold is avoided. In the meantime, you can use some simple remedies and preventive tips to reduce the intensity of symptoms or discomfort.
Here are the top 10 ways to heal and prevent chilblains.
When suffering from chilblains, the first thing you need to do is elevate the affected area. This will help improve blood circulation, in turn reducing swelling, inflammation and pain.
You can place your hands and legs on a few pillows to keep them elevated. If your nose or ears are affected, sit in a high-backed chair and bend your neck backwards.
You can also wrap yourself with a warm blanket and drink a glass of hot chocolate or a cup of warm herbal tea to help your body adapt to warm temperature. Once your body adjusts to the room temperature, gently massage the affected area with warm coconut oil or olive oil to improve blood flow.
With the onset of the winter months, you need to massage your hands and legs gently in circular motions twice daily, in the morning and at night before going to bed. This will ensure good blood circulation and reduce your risk of developing chilblains.
- You can use palm oil or castor oil to massage your hands and legs.
- Another option is to add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender, rosemary or lemon oil to any good quality vegetable oil and use it to massage.
A popular age-old remedy for chilblains is onions. Onions have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibiotic properties that can help reduce itching, pain, swelling and inflammation, and reduce the risk of infection.
- Cut an onion into thick slices. Gently rub a slice of onion over the affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then wipe it off with a warm washcloth. Do this 2 or 3 times a day for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Alternatively, grind 1 to 2 onions into a paste. Apply it all over the affected area and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the paste off with cold water. Do this a few times daily for 1 or 2 weeks.
Note: Do not apply raw onion or onion juice on cracked skin.
Potatoes can bring down the itching and inflammation caused by chilblains to a great extent, due to their anti-irritating and soothing properties. They are also good for treating blisters that develop with chilblains.
- Cut a raw potato into thick slices. Sprinkle some salt on the slices and gently rub them on the affected area.
- Boil 1 or 2 potatoes in 2 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the solution to cool down. Soak the affected area in the solution for about 10 minutes.
Follow either of these treatments twice daily for a week.
Calendula can also be used to treat acute chilblains. This herb has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation and pain as well as encourage quick healing.
- Boil a handful of calendula flowers in 2 cups of water and then let the solution simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the solution to cool down and add some sea salt to it. Soak the affected area in this solution for about 15 minutes once or twice daily.
- You can also buy calendula ointment from the market and apply it on the affected areas as directed.
Garlic is another good remedy to eliminate symptoms of chilblains. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, it can instantly reduce inflammation and itchiness as well as promote quick healing.
- Rub the affected area with garlic oil several times a day to stimulate blood flow and relieve some of the discomforts.
- Also include garlic in your diet.