Chilblains of the toes (pernio)

What is chilblains of the toes?

Chilblains is a painful inflammation of the small blood vessels of the skin caused by cold temperatures and damp environment. 

What does chilblains of the toe look like?

The toes can become red, swollen, itchy and painful. Red to purple soft tissue discoloration of the toes can appear and possibly become blisters. The symptoms typically last from 1 to 3 weeks and can also appear on the fingers, ears or thighs. 

How to treat chilblains?

Prevention is the mainstay treatment which involves warm clothing, avoiding cold/moist environments, hand/toe warming packs, warm water soaks, and avoiding nicotine. If chilblain develops with preventative measure then medications that cause an increase of blood flow (vasodilation) can be used, such as nitroglycerin ointment or calcium channel blockers (nifedipine).  Pentoxyfyline has been shown to be effective in treatment and topical/oral steroids can be used, but have been less successful in treatment. 

If you have foot or ankle pain and would like a consultation. Make an appointment at Orange County Podiatry with Dr. Andrew Yang or call (949) 651-1202