Hands going black and blue? Clearly, you’ve got chilblains

Published on: 25 January 2022, 10:00 am IST
If plummeting temperatures are making your hands and feet turn violet or blue, seek help because these are clear signs of chilblains.
Nikita Bhardwaj
Don’t ignore itching and swelling in your limbs during the winter season. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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The northern part of India is experiencing a bone-chilling winter this time around. The cold is so harsh that even the colour of our bodies is turning from pink to black and blue. Is it happening with you too? If the answer to this question is a big fat YES, check if your hands and feet are also itching and are swollen or not, because if that’s the case, you might be suffering from chilblains.
What is chilblain and what are its major causes?

Chilblain is an injury that happens when the skin is exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended period of time. Due to prolonged exposure to a chilled environment, the tissue that is present below the skin freezes.

If the exposure to low temperature exceeds, there are chances that frost might set in and can even lead to frostbite; although cases of frostbite will happen when you are in extreme temperatures. This could be in the case of direct skin contact with a freezing object such as freezing metals, ice packs or dry ice. Frostbite mostly affects the toes and fingers, but can be seen in the nose, cheeks, or chin too.

If your hands are changing it’s color then seek help immediately because it can be chilblains. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

When it comes to chilblains, it is most common during the winter season, in windy weather, and at high altitudes. “During chilblain, the water in the skin freezes, causing visible and invisible damage to the cells and soft tissues. The cold can injure both the skin and the tissues underneath like muscles, nerves, and joints. Chilblain is so dangerous because it often numbs the skin first. Severe frostbite often causes the skin to swell up, and also causes uncomfortable blisters,” shares Dr Nivedita Dadu, renowned dermatologist, founder & chairman of Dr Nivedita Dadu’s Dermatology Clinic to HealthShots.

Hacks to prevent chilblains

  • Layering your body is the best hack to prevent chilblains. Doing so with clothes helps to trap the warmth of the body. The first layer should be a moisture-wicking synthetic material, layer it up with insulating woolen clothing and the final layer should be windproof and waterproof. Ensure a snug fit of the clothes.
  • “Be aware of the weather forecast. Avoid spending extended periods of time in cold weather as well as coming into direct contact with metal surfaces or water while out in the cold,” says Dr Dadu.
  • While roaming outside, make sure to sip on water. Intake of fluids and food will help maintain the body temperature.
  • Change out of wet clothes as soon as you can.
  • Protect the hands and feet. Keep your hands and feet covered and warm as they are the most prone to chilblains.
  • Stay hydrated and eat nutritious meals. Avoid alcohol, as it can help to lose body heat more quickly.
Covering yourself properly is the first thing you can do to prevent chilblains. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Simple home tricks to treat chilblain

Mild chilblain can be treated at home with first-aid care.

  • Keep the affected body part elevated in order to reduce swelling;
  • Move to a warm area to prevent further heat loss;
  • If possible, avoid walking too much on chilblain toes or feet;
  • Remove all wet clothing and constrictive jewelry because they may further block blood flow;
  • Give the person warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids to drink;
  • Apply a dry and sterile bandage, and place cotton between any involved fingers or toes (to prevent rubbing). Take the person to a medical facility as soon as possible.
  • Do not rub the frozen area with snow. The friction created by this technique will only cause further tissue damage.

So guys, if you too, are seeing your limbs going black and blue, don’t ignore the signs, because it can turn into a painful ride.

Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.

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