Chilblains

by A Y Marian.

Chilblains

Chilblains

Chilblains

Chilblains are an inflammation of the skin that is frequently accompanied by itching or burning. Also known as perniosis, they are caused as a reaction to exposure to cold and are most often found on the small toes, fingers, face or nose. They may also occur on areas that bear pressure, like a bunion. People who have poor circulation or a poor diet are at more risk for developing the condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a chilblain can include a redness or pallor of the affected areas, a numbness, and hot, tender, itchy skin and there may be ulcerated or bleeding lesions. The areas may appear blue as they get congested and swollen. When they dry out, they may leave cracks in the skin, leaving the body open to infection.

Causes

Chilblains are caused by excessive constriction of the blood vessels just beneath the skin and most frequently is caused by the cold. Damp living conditions, hormonal imbalance, a poor diet, being anemic or sudden immersion in very cold water or cold environments can also contribute to chilblains. Poor circulation is also a factor. If you are diabetic or suffer from other conditions that affect the circulation, use caution. Eating nutritious foods, exercising and wearing properly fitting shoes will help improve circulation to the affected areas. In cold weather, dress appropriately and don't expose yourself to the elements any longer than necessary.

Cautions

Severe pain and cracking may require a visit to the doctor for relief and infection prevention. If infection has already set in, it should be seen by a professional.

Herbal Treatments

Internal Applications

  • Cayenne – take capsules or tablets three times a day to increase circulation.
  • Cramp bark – a decoction made from the bark can be taken three times per day.
  • Garlic – eat the fresh cloves or take capsules every day to aid healing.
  • Ginger – a cup of ginger tea twice a day will help the circulation.
  • Ginkgo – tablets are also useful for improving circulation.

External Applications

  • Ginger – fresh ginger that has been sliced or grated can be applied externally to stimulate blood flow to the affected areas.
  • Echinacea – apply a drop or two of tincture to the chilblain. This will stimulate blood flow, and if the skin is cracked, it will help prevent infection.
  • Lemon – apply undiluted juice to stimulate blood flow to this area. This may prevent blistering.
  • Garlic – the oil from this herb will stimulate blood flow into the smaller capillaries to relieve some of the discomfort.
  • Mixed oils – there is a recipe to try that mixes linseed oil, tea tree oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, comfrey and aloe vera with Bach flower remedies Aspen and Chestnut Bud. Apply this mixture to the skin to reduce swelling, restore healthy skin cells and increase the circulation.
  • Chickweed – apply the crushed herb as a poultice to ease the pain associated with chilblains.
  • Black mustard - mix 50 grams of black mustard power with 200 grams of flax powder - add water to make paste. Add as a poultice to affected area for 10 minutes.
  • Cayenne - apply a cayenne based ointment to the area 3 times a day.

Aromatherapy

Use the oil in a carrier oil to massage affected areas.

  • Rosemary – the essential oil can be applied to increase the circulation.
  • Lavender – apply the essential oil to increase blood flow and to prevent infection.
  • Peppermint oil – this essential oil will aid in circulation and ease some of the discomfort.
  • Myrrh – apply a drop or two of this tincture for relief and more blood flow.a

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