Because of the long exposure to low temperature, blood vessels in the skin and just below the skin will normally clench and store heat (and the skin will turn pale).
Chilblains is a disorder of this normal reaction. Sensitive nervous control of the superficial blood vessels is disrupted and as a consequence of that, is the extreme blurriness and obsequies of the affected area with the surfaces of red, swollen, itchy, often crannied skin.
Frequent exposure to cold and moisture exacerbates the problems. If the temperature is much lower than the freezing point, the skin and tissue below it can even freeze.
Although chilblains can occur anywhere on the body, they usually affect the arms and feet. Some people – especially children – seem to be particularly prone to this disorder.
What to do?
Chilblains are unpleasant, but they do not leave lasting consequences. To avoid them, wear cool and dry clothes and shoes in cold weather, including a hat covering your ears. Change gloves, shoes, and socks whenever they are wet. If your skin is itchy, put some talc powder on it. Do not scratch it because scratching may cause damage to your skin. Do not put “homemade” fats on affected areas.
If chilblains are causing you problems, contact a doctor who can prescribe a vasodilator.