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Chilblains (perniosis)

Please note the information provided is intended to support patients and is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. We strongly recommend consultation with your doctor or health care professional, before using any information obtained from articles of this website.

Chilblains (or perniosis) are localised inflammatory lesions of the skin associated with exposure to cold, and typically appear suddenly. They have red or blue colour, are itchy and very tender to touch.

These usually appear in young women 15-30 years of age and subside within a few days. However, after multiple exposures to cold, they may have a longer course with blisters and ulcerations.

They are primary, i.e. no underlying cause can be found. Rarely, they are secondary to conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus, cold-globulinaemia, myelomonocytic leukaemia or as a reaction to certain drugs (e.g. infliximab, sulindac, terbinafine).

As in Raynaud’s phenomenon, the physician may recommend simple measures (smoking cessation, avoiding exposure to cold, warm clothing) and medicines (like the vasodilator niphedipine). Clothing that rubs should be avoided.

Last modified 22/02/2014