Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 03 Jul 2016

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Hannah Gronow, 03 Jul 2016

Chilblains are small, itchy, painful lumps that develop on the skin as an abnormal response to cold.

What are chilblains?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of

Chilblains sound rather like something little old ladies get, but in fact anyone can get chilblains at any age. They are as common in children as they are in elderly people. Chilblains are lumps on the skin which come up as an abnormal reaction to the cold. They are usually red or purplish.

They can be itchy or sore. Sometimes they come up when skin is warmed up too quickly after it has been cold. Nobody really knows why some people are prone to chilblains and others are luckier and don't get them.

Chilblains on the toes

Usually chilblains go away of their own accord within a week or two. You may get more if you are prone to them, and are exposed to cold conditions. Occasionally, they can hang around if you are continually exposed to the cold.

No. Chilblains can be diagnosed from their typical appearance together with the background of having been exposed to cold.

Further reading and references

  • Chilblains; NICE CKS, August 2013 (UK access only)

  • Gordon R, Arikian AM, Pakula AS; Chilblains in Southern California: two case reports and a review of the literature. J Med Case Rep. 2014 Nov 228:381. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-8-381.

  • Chilblains; DermNet NZ

  • Almahameed A, Pinto DS; Pernio (chilblains). Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2008 Apr10(2):128-35.

  • Ozmen M, Kurtoglu V, Can G, et al; The capillaroscopic findings in idiopathic pernio: is it a microvascular disease? Mod Rheumatol. 2013 Sep23(5):897-903. doi: 10.1007/s10165-012-0768-9. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

I'm geting all these sores over my fingers on both hands. They're not itchy and feel like blisters that are painful only when pressure is applied. Theres more coming up every day and I dont have them...

Health Tools

Feeling unwell?

Assess your symptoms online with our free symptom checker.

Start symptom checker