Chillblains Vitamin Deficiency and How Can You Prevent Them?

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Chilblains, also spelled Chillblains, are small, itchy swellings on the skin that can occur after exposure to cold weather.

They are caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin. Chilblains can be prevented by keeping your skin warm and dry.

Tiny blood vessels in your skin constrict when exposed to cold temperatures.

This increased pressure can cause the small blood vessels to rupture and leak red blood cells into the surrounding tissue.

The leaking of red blood cells causes the characteristic itchiness and swelling associated with chilblains.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of chilblains, how to prevent them, and treatment options and how it occur.

Please note: many people think chilbains are caused by a vitamin deficiency, but this is incorrect!

Causes

blood supply, cold feet, skin narrow

What causes chilblains?

Chilblains are caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin. When the skin is exposed to cold weather, the blood vessels constrict.

This can cause tissue damage and inflammation. Chilblains can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease, lupus, and diabetes.

Chilblains are caused by exposure to cold weather. They can also be caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin.

The exact cause is unknown, but it is thought that chilblains may be due to an abnormal reaction of the blood vessels to cold temperatures. This reaction causes the blood vessels to constrict (narrow), which decreases blood flow to the area and can lead to tissue damage.

Your circulatory health

Your circulatory system is responsible for delivering blood to all the tissues in your body. The blood vessels that carry blood to your skin are called arteries.

The arteries then branch off into smaller vessels called arterioles. The arterioles lead to even smaller vessels, called capillaries.

The capillaries are where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs. The oxygen-rich blood from the arteries flows into the capillaries, and the carbon dioxide-rich blood from the capillaries flows back into the veins.

The veins then carry the carbon dioxide-rich blood back to the heart. This process is called circulation.

When you are exposed to cold temperatures, your body responds by trying to keep warm.

One way it does this is by constricting (narrowing) the blood vessels in your skin. This decreases blood flow to the area and helps to conserve heat.

In people with chilblains, this process doesn’t work correctly. The blood vessels overreact to the cold and constrict more than they should.

This can cause tissue damage and inflammation. Chilblains can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease, lupus, and diabetes.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that may increase your risk of developing chilblains, including:

  • Exposure to cold weather: Chilblains are more common in colder climates. People who live in areas with very cold winters are at increased risk.
  • Poor circulation: Poor circulation can decrease blood flow to the extremities and make them more susceptible to injury from cold temperatures.
  • Use of certain medications: Medications that constrict blood vessels, such as beta blockers, can increase your risk of developing chilblains.
  • Smoking: Smoking decreases blood flow and makes you more susceptible to developing chilblains.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Conditions that affect blood circulation, such as Raynaud’s disease, lupus, and diabetes, can increase your risk of developing chilblains.

What do chilblains look like?

Chilblains often first appear as small red bumps. They can also lead to skin infections and rarely serious complications such as ulcers.

Symptoms

Chilblains typically cause itching, redness, and swelling. They can also cause pain, burning, or tenderness. Chilblains usually develop on the toes, fingers, ears, or nose.

They often first appear as small red bumps. These bumps can turn into blisters or ulcers. Chilblains can also lead to skin infections.

Read here for additional vitamin deficiency symptoms.

How common are chilblains?

Chilblains are more common in women than men. They are also more common in people who have circulation problems, such as Raynaud’s disease.

Chilblains can occur at any age, but they are most common in young adults and children.

Complications

Chilblains can rarely lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Tissue damage: Repeated episodes of chilblains can damage the tissue in the affected area and lead to permanent changes in skin color and sensation.
  • Skin infections: Chilblains can sometimes become infected with bacteria. This infection can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, which can be life-threatening.
  • Amputation: In severe cases, chilblains can lead to tissue death (gangrene). This can require amputation of the affected limb.

Chilblains and Raynaud’s

Raynaud’s disease is a condition that causes the blood vessels to constrict in response to cold or stress.

People with Raynaud’s disease are more likely to develop chilblains. Chilblains can also be caused by lupus and diabetes.

Treating chilblains

Chilblains usually go away on their own within a few weeks. However, there are some things

you can do to ease the symptoms and speed up healing.

These include:

  • Keeping the affected area warm: This will help increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.
  • Soaking the affected area in warm water: This can help relieve pain and itching.
  • Applying lotions or creams: This can help relieve itching and pain. Be sure to avoid lotions or creams that contain fragrances, which can irritate the skin.
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications: These can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • If chilblains don’t improve within a few weeks, or if they become infected, you should see a doctor. A doctor can prescribe medications to help relieve symptoms and speed up healing.

They can also provide guidance on how to prevent chilblains in the future.

Preventing chilblains

There are several things you can do to prevent chilblains, including:

  • Dressing warmly: This will help keep your skin warm and increase blood flow.
  • Avoiding sudden changes in temperature: This includes avoiding exposure to cold weather and hot showers.
  • Wearing gloves or socks: This will help protect your hands and feet from the cold.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking decreases blood flow and makes you more susceptible to developing chilblains.
  • Manage underlying medical conditions: If you have a condition that affects blood circulation, such as Raynaud’s disease, lupus, or diabetes, talk to your doctor about ways to manage it.

By taking these steps, you can help prevent chilblains and the complications they can cause.

Chilblains are a condition that can cause itching, redness, and swelling. They are caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin and often first appear as small red bumps.

Chilblains can also lead to skin infections and rarely serious complications. You can prevent chilblains by dressing warmly and avoiding exposure to cold weather.

If you have a condition that affects blood circulation, such as Raynaud’s disease, lupus, or diabetes, talk to your doctor about ways to manage it.

How to best manage symptoms of chilblains

Chilblains usually grow within an hour of exposure. This causes underlying burning and irritation that can increase when confined to warm rooms.

The affected skin will also be swollen. In serious situations the skin surface may crack or blister. You should avoid scratching your skin because it can easily get infected with bacteria.

When should I see a doctor?

If chilblains don’t improve within a few weeks, or if they become infected, you should see a doctor.

A doctor can prescribe medications to help relieve symptoms and speed up healing.

They can also provide guidance on how to prevent chilblains in the future.

Conclusion

Chilblains are a condition that can cause itching, redness, and swelling. They are caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin and often first appear as small red bumps.

Chilblains can also lead to skin infections and rarely serious complications. You can prevent chilblains by dressing warmly and avoiding exposure to cold weather.

If you have a condition that affects blood circulation, such as Raynaud’s disease, lupus, or diabetes, talk to your doctor about ways to manage it.

You should see a doctor if chilblains don’t improve within a few weeks or they become infected. A doctor can prescribe medications to help relieve symptoms and speed up healing.

They can also provide guidance on how to prevent chilblains in the future. By taking these steps, you can help prevent chilblains and the complications they can cause.

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