Chillblains are small, pruritic inflamed areas on the skin that occur as a reaction to cold temperatures. Chillblains are also known as pernio or pernosis. They are a localised form of vasculitis affecting the body’s extremities such as toes, fingers, heels, ears and nose. They occur when small arteries in the skin constrict as a result of cold weather, when the body is then exposed to sudden warmth after cold the surface vessels leak into the surrounding tissue causing characteristic swelling and irritation.
Chillblains can occur at any age but are more common in paediatric and geriatric populations.
Chillblains are more common in areas where damp, cold weather is usual in winter such as northern Europe.