Chilblains are painful inflammatory swellings, of a deep purple or leaden colour, to which the fingers, toes, heels, and other extreme parts of the body, are subject on being exposed to a certain degree of cold; or rather, they are the result of exposing the chilled part to too sudden and great a degree of heat. The pain is not constant, but rather pungent and shooting at particular times, with an almost insupportable itching. If the progress of the chilblain is not checked at once, something like a blister forms at the part, which breaks and discharges a thin fluid, and is sometimes troublesome to heal.

Children and old people are more liable to be troubled with chilblains than those of middle age; children more especially, their skin being usually delicate and easily susceptible to injury. For the same reason, the softness and delicacy of the skin, persons of a scrofulous habit, usually suffer severely from them. To prevent chilblains, the hands and feet should be warmly clothed in cold weather. Persons liable to cold feet, will find that wearing cotton stockings next the skin, and woollen stockings or socks over them, will keep the feet much warmer than by wearing the woollen next the skin.


As soon as the peculiar itching (which is the first symptom of chilblain, and easily recognized by those who have once experienced it) is felt, the parts affected should be at once rubbed with some stimulating liniment; and this should be repeated frequently till the natural colour and feeling of the part has returned. Hartshorn and oil; camphorated spirit; spirit of turpentine; or, if nothing else is obtainable at the moment, common mustard may be used for that purpose.

If the chilblains have been neglected till they have broken, nothing of a stimulating nature must be applied to them, but they must be dressed, like any other sore, with some cooling, healing ointment, such as Spermaceti Ointment, or Calamine Ointment, commonly called Turner's Cerate. If none of these can be obtained conveniently, an ounce of fresh lard may be melted with a quarter of an ounce of bee's-wax; and the sore be dressed night and morning till healed.