What are Chilblains?:Battling the Cold

-Pragya Pokhrel

Pragya Pokhrel talks about her personal experience as a victim of the worst skin problem in the winter.


What is it really?

Chilblain, according to a Medilexicon’s dictionary, is erythema, itching, and burning, especially of the dorsa of the fingers and toes, and of the heels, nose, and ears, caused by vascular constriction on exposure to extreme cold. And, this condition, also called periniosis, is common in people who are vulnerable and susceptible to cold. It starts with the onset of the winter season when the fingers and toes start swelling and become red in color. It is painful in most cases.

I have had a series of check-ups and loaded myself with numerous medicines, and I can only conclude that there is no cure for this winter disease except that you need to make sure you keep your hands and feet warm and take the necessary precautions before it gets worse.

“Pay no attention,” says Mandira Shakya
It is quite awkward to attend a gathering or a party when your skin is not in very good condition. Covering hands and toes properly is the best way to prevent from direct cold during winters, and nice winter gloves can also hide chilblains when you’re out partying.

Mandira Shakya, a housewife, has a similar story to tell. She has had chilblain since childhood. Initially, she tried different medicines and treatments, but found that prevention is the only better option. She tries to keep herself busy with household chores and ignores her problem completely. But she does keep her hands warm when she is not working. “Paying too much attention can really bother you,” she adds.

Hence, those who are vulnerable to cold and have perniosis, should restrain from cold surroundings and keep oneself warm with warm clothing and insulated floors. If you have to work, then house gloves are a good option. Exercise regularly so as to improve circulation. And, if the matter gets worse, then you might want to visit your doctor.

The Way Out

  • Some people find that placing cotton wool between their toes helps circulation.
  • Try to avoid exposure to cold, including cold water, as much as possible.
  • When coming back from the cold, do not expose susceptible areas to sudden warmth (a gradual process is better).
  • Keep your fingers and toes in warm water with salt.

The Unlucky Ones

  • Individuals with close family members who have/had chilblain.
  • Patients with circulation problems.
  • Patients with lupus (this is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues resulting in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, etc.).
  • People whose homes are draughty and cold (not well insulated).
  • Tobacco smokers and thin individuals.

Consult in Time
It is good to discuss with your skin doctor and try out alternative medicines. You will never know what might work for your skin type. Below are references for the same:

Dr. Sudeshna Shrestha
Consultant Dermatologist/Cosmetologist/Laser Specialist
Medical Director of Siddhi Polyclinic Health Service Center, Dillibazar
Phone: 4410604 / 4416682

Dr. S. Gupta
Safeway Revive Centre
Kumari Marg, Tripureshwor:
Phone: 4261629

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