Chilblains: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 3/1/2022

Chilblains are red, violet, or bluish patches of skin. Females and people with low body mass index (BMI) are at greater risk of developing chilblains than the average population. Smoking is also a risk factor for the development of chilblains. Chilblains are also known as pernio.

Signs and symptoms of chilblains include the discolored patches of skin on the fingers or toes. These may also appear on the ears or legs. Associated symptoms and signs can include

Some reports have described a similar pattern of skin changes in patients infected with COVID-19, but the exact cause has not been fully established.

Cause of Chilblains

Exposure to damp or cold temperatures (but not freezing temperatures) causes chilblains.

Other chilblains symptoms and signs

  • Blistering
  • Discolored Patches of Skin on the Fingers, Toes, Ears, or Legs
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.