Prevention of Cold-Related Skin Conditions

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The winter months are upon us, which brings about freezing temperatures and plenty of snow. While everyone knows that they should dress warmly during these conditions, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we are not dressed appropriately. This is especially true with children who are more interested in getting outside as quickly as possible than gearing up correctly. In these cases, individuals may find themselves at risk for certain cold-related skin conditions. Read on to learn more about these conditions and how to best prevent them.


Frostbite occurs when the skin and/or tissue freezes due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The earliest stages of frostbite, called frostnip, can cause the skin to feel cold and prickly, followed by numbness. Once frostbite sets in, the skin can become inflamed, discolored, hard, or waxy-looking. While frostnip can be treated by simply warming the area, frostbite requires medical attention.

Treatment will depend on the extent of your frostbite and may include rewarming the area, medications, wound care, surgery, or other therapies. In order to prevent frostbite in the future, be sure to dress appropriately for cold temperatures with warm layers of clothing.


Chilblains are the inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold air. This condition can cause itching, swelling, blistering, and red patches on the hands and feet.

While chilblains often clear up within a few weeks, individuals can experience recurrences seasonally. In order to avoid this condition, be sure to avoid exposing your skin to the cold by dressing warmly. If your chilblains do not clear up on their own, your dermatologist may recommend certain medications to help reduce lesions.

Cold Urticaria

Cold urticaria is a skin reaction to cold that causes hives to develop. It is most common in young adults, though it can occur in anyone of any age. While it is not known what causes cold urticaria, certain people tend to have sensitive skin cells due to a virus, illness, or inherited trait.

Signs and symptoms occur soon after the skin is exposed to cold temperatures and include temporary hives on areas of skin that were exposed to the cold and a worsening of itchy welts as the skin warms up. In rare instances, some people may have severe reactions which include anaphylaxis or swelling of the tongue and throat. In these cases, seek medical help immediately.

In order to treat cold urticaria, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines, or a medication called omalizumab, which is normally prescribed to treat asthma.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you believe that you or your child may be experiencing a cold-related skin condition, contact HMGS Dermatology today for prompt treatment! Our team of skilled providers is dedicated to providing outstanding care for each of our patients.