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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 T69.1
ICD-9 991.5
DiseasesDB 31219
eMedicine derm/322

Chilblains (/ˈɪlblnz/; also known as pernio and perniosis)[1] is a medical condition that is often confused with frostbite and trench foot. Chilblains are a tissue injury that occurs when a predisposed individual is exposed to cold and humidity. The cold exposure damages capillary beds in the skin, which in turn can cause redness, itching, blisters, and inflammation.[2] Chilblains can be prevented by keeping the feet and hands warm in cold weather. Chilblains can be idiopathic but may also be a manifestation of a serious medical condition that needs to be investigated. A history of chilblains is suggestive of a connective tissue disease. Chilblains in infants, together with severe neurologic disease and unexplained fevers, can be seen in Aicardi–Goutières syndrome, a rare inherited condition.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Chilblains from excessively icing the feet

The areas most affected are the ears, earlobes, nose, and extremities; feet and toes, hands and fingers.


With treatment, chilblains usually heal within 7–14 days.


  • Keep area warm
  • Topical steroid cream can relieve itch.
  • Nifedipine may be used in more severe or recurrent cases.[3] Its vasodilation helps reduce pain, facilitate healing and prevent recurrences.[4]
  • Diltiazem may also be used.[5]

There are anecdotal reports that chilblains may be helped by Vitamin D and Calcium supplements.[6]



Recommend three to four times a day soaking in warm water with Epsom salts for 15–20 minutes.


  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise to improve circulation
  • Avoid alcohol before going out in snow.[citation needed]


The medieval Bald's Leechbook recommended that chilblains be treated with a mix of eggs, wine, and fennel root.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0. [page needed]
  2. ^ Cold Stress: Chilblains. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved January 6, 2009.
  3. ^ Rustin, M.H.A.; Newton, Julia A.; Smith, N.P.; Dowd, Pauline M. (2006). "The treatment of chilblains with nifedipine: the results of a pilot study, a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study and a long-term open trial". British Journal of Dermatology 120 (2): 267–75. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.1989.tb07792.x. PMID 2647123. 
  4. ^ Simon, T. D.; Soep, JB; Hollister, JR (2005). "Pernio in Pediatrics". Pediatrics 116 (3): e472–5. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-2681. PMID 16140694. 
  5. ^ Patra, AK; Das, AL; Ramadasan, P (5/1/2003). "Diltiazem vs. nifedipine in chilblains: A clinical trial". Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 69 (3): 209–11. PMID 17642888. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger August:The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium Little, Brown, 2000 ISBN 0316511579[page needed]

External links[edit]