Exposure to Cold Temperatures and Your Feet

Nov 23, 2020

Don’t Let Your Toes Catch a Cold

Have you noticed itching, red patches, swelling, and blistering on your feet? Chilblains, also known as Pernio, is a cutaneous disorder characterized by development of cold-induced erythrocyanotic skin lesions. It is thought to result from an abnormal vascular response to cold exposure. Young and middle-aged women are most commonly affected.

It manifests as erythematous to violaceous macules, papules, plaques, or nodules in sites of cold exposure. The most common sites are the fingers and toes. Symptoms of pruritus, pain or burning often accompany the skin lesions, and complications of blistering, ulceration, or secondary infection can occur. 

In many cases, it presents as an acute eruption that begins 12 to 24 hours after cold exposure and resolves within 1-3 weeks. However, it may become chronic and recurrent. 

Chilblains symptomChilblains

The management of chilblains primarily consists of avoidance of precipitating conditions. Keep the affected areas warm by wearing appropriately insulated clothing and avoiding unprotected exposure to cold conditions. 

If the symptoms do not resolve with conservative care, see our podiatrists for full evaluation and treatment as it may be associated with a systemic disease such as cutaneous lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

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