Chilblains (otherwise knows as pernio) are caused by inflammation of the blood vessels in the skin, and can become painful and itchy. Untreated they can crack the skin, leading to infections. They are caused when an exposed body part, typically the feet or the hands, moves from an extremely cold environment to a hot one. The most common example of this is when a person with cold hands runs them under the hot tap – frequently leading to swelling and tingling in the hands, but also potentially to the formation of chilblains. The chilblain is caused by the blood vessels restricting blood flow during extreme cold, but being exposed to warmth that causes an unexpected expansion. The result is the leaking of fluid into surrounding tissues. Treatments range from simple antiseptic solutions (such as iodine) to prevent infection through to antibiotics for already infected ulcers.
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