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What Is The Best Chilblains Cream?


Chilblain is a condition characterized by painful, itchy, and red swellings of the skin, affecting mainly the toes, fingers, and ear, caused by exposure to cold, which causes narrowing of the blood vessels and consequently poor circulation. Chilblains are a self-limiting condition meaning it resolves itself without any treatment.

Prolonged chilblains may require a GP intervention. Chilblains treatment may involve symptomatic management of pain and avoidance of cold and damp conditions to prevent further events of chilblains. Today I will review the availability of chilblains cream for symptomatic management of chilblains.

Chilblains: Main Symptoms

  • Red, itchy, painful skin affects toes, fingers, ears, but can also affect the face.
  • Skin which is swollen
  • Burning sensation in the affected area

How To Prevent Chilblains?

Chilblains can be prevented by keeping warm in cold weather. Main recommendations for the prevention of chilblains:

  • Stay warm
  • Wear a hat, gloves, leggings, and thick socks
  • Use multiple layers of clothes
  • Use hand warmers and/or feet warmers.
  • Carry a hot drink (in a travel mug) with you. It will warm you up from the inside.

Chilblains Treatment

The gradual warming of the skin is recommended; however, direct heat should be avoided (NICE, 2019). Keep the affected area dry and avoid cold to prevent the condition from getting worse.

Pain management involves taking over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofenDecongestants such as pseudoephedrine (e.g., Sudafed) should be avoided as they can cause blood vessel constriction, leading to poor circulation.

  1. Chilblains cream – Balmosa cream

Is Balmosa the best treatment for chilblains ?


Balmosa cream contains a mixture of:

  • Menthol,
  • Camphor,
  • Methyl salicylate, and
  • Oleoresin capsicum

All of the above active ingredients produce a sensation of warmth when applied to the skin. Balmosa cream can be used by adults and children who are 12 years and above.

Although there is no specific evidence for Balmosa cream use in chilblains treatment, individually, some of the active ingredients are known to cause dilation of the blood vessels, which increases the flow of the blood to the affected areas and hence regulate the body’s temperature.

Balmosa chilblains cream: active ingredients and their role

  • Through unknown mechanisms, menthol promotes vasodilation (Craighead et al., 2017). Vasodilation (opening of the blood vessels) improves blood flow, which regulates body temperature.
  • Camphor is an organic compound produced from a camphor tree (The Cinnamomum camphora) and has applications in cream, balms, lotions, and ointments. An experimental study in humans showed increased skin blood flow when camphor was applied to the skin. A similar effect was seen for the application of menthol to the skin (Kotaka, 2014).
  • Methyl salicylate (related to Aspirin) may have a role in pain and has anti-inflammatory properties; however, no evidence exists to support this. Once absorbed in the body, methyl salicylate can be changed into salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Capsicum is used in the formulation for pain management.

Where to buy Balmosa cream?

Balmosa cream is not commonly displayed on pharmacy shelves; however, some pharmacies keep it in stock for the public to buy. If needed, Balmosa cream can be ordered by some pharmacy teams on one basis from leading pharmaceutical suppliers for the same or next-day delivery. Balmosa cream can be purchased online

  1. Boots Chilblains Cream

Eucalyptus Oil

Boots Chilblains Cream (Boots Pharmacy) is another option to help with the treatment of chilblains. Boots Chilblain cream contains two active ingredients:

  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Eucalyptus Oil

The main actions of the above two ingredients are:

  • improved local circulation and feeling of warmth (Eucalyptus oil)
  • reduction of pain/discomfort caused by chilblains – weak, local anaesthetic action (Benzyl alcohol)

Boots Chilblains Cream is available in Boots Pharmacy stores.

  1. Snowfire Ointment Stick For chilblains

Although SNOWFIRE is not classified as a cream, ointment, I still wanted to include this option in the treatment/prevention of chilblains simply because of the number of positive reviews for this product. Snowfire Ointment Stick is recommended for dry skin, chapped hands, and chilblains. Snowfire ointment contains a combination of essential oils, which may be of some benefit to help with chilblains.

  1. Gehwol Cream For Chilblains

Gehwol Foot Cream is advertised to strengthen the skin and prevent blisters protecting against aching feet, cold feet, chilblains, and frostbite.

The main active ingredients found in Gehwol cream are:

  • Manuka Oil,
  • Zinc Oxide,
  • Aloe Vera and Jojoba Oil.

Zink oxide is widely available in different skin products, and act as a mild antiseptic ingredient. The combination of plant oils acts as a barrier by creating an occlusive effect on the skin.

In addition, jojoba oil is a good ingredient to support the repair of the skin and also has a proven anti-inflammatory effect (Lin et al., 2018).

Can You Use Topical Steroid Cream To Treat Chilblains?

Topical steroid creams such as hydrocortisone or clobetasone (Eumovate) are typically licensed and used to treat various skin conditions, including eczema.

Topical steroid creams are effective in management in those conditions. Steroid creams reduce redness, itchiness and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

From the description, it seems like topical steroids cream could help with chilblains; however, steroid creams or ointments are not licensed for this purpose.

Are steroid creams effective in the treatment of chilblains?

I found only one study (Souwer et al., 2017), which looked at the effectiveness of steroid cream in the treatment of chilblains. A group of 34 Dutch participants used betamethasone valerate 0.1% cream (a prescription-only steroid) or placebo cream (cream, which does not have any active ingredients) to treat chronic chilblains. Although this study was small in size, it was well designed.

What was the outcome at the end of 6 weeks trial?

Topical steroid cream (betamethasone 0.1% cream) was no better in the treatment of chronic chilblains as compared to placebo cream (no active ingredient).

It was concluded that betamethasone should not be used to treat chilblains unless more evidence becomes available to support this use.

Chilblains alternative treatment: drugs

In severe or prolonged cases of chilblains, a GP may prescribe nifedipine (NICE, 2018). Nifedipine is usually used in the treatment of high blood pressure and angina. Nifedipine causes the dilation of blood vessels, improving circulation in the affected areas.

Nifedipine, however, is not commonly prescribed or recommended for the treatment of chilblains. This is because chilblains is a self-limiting condition, goes on its own without treatment with self-care measures. The evidence supporting the use of nifedipine is insufficient.

One small study showed no additional benefit in the treatment of chilblains when nifedipine was compared to a ‘dummy’ pill (Souwer et al., 2016).

Chilblains Treatment: when To See GP

As mentioned before, chilblains should go on their own. Seek GP advice i:

  • Chilblains do not go away after 2-3 weeks.
  • There are signs of infection in the affected area, e.g., puss present, for which a GP may prescribe an antibiotic cream or oral antibiotic.
  • If you are a diabetic patient

Chilblains cream – Conclusion

Chilblains usually go on their own without any specific treatment. Creams reviewed in this post may help with symptoms of chilblains; however, there is no evidence to support their use in the treatment of chilblains.

Prevention rather than treatment is a crucial factor to consider by customers who are regularly affected by chilblains.

Quick FAQ

How can you get rid of chilblains in a matter of hours?
If you have chilblains, try the following at-home remedies:
Warm-up your body, resist the impulse to scratch, use calamine lotion or witch hazel to soothe the itching. To stimulate heat and circulation, use Deep Heat or something similar on the foot. Socks should be woolen or cotton.
Why won’t my chilblains go away?
Poor circulation or diabetic patients may not be able to heal well from chilblains.
Is Sudocrem good for chilblains?
Sudocrem is good for sunburn and chilblains, bedsores. It reduces the infection and soothes the skin.
  • Craighead, Daniel H., Nathaniel B. McCartney, James H. Tumlinson, and Lacy M. Alexander (2017). Mechanisms and time course of menthol-induced cutaneous vasodilation. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.mvr.2016.11.008 Accessed on 27/11/2019
  • NICE, (2018). Scenario: Management of chilblains. Available at: https://cks.nice.org.uk/chilblains#!scenario Accessed on 25/11/2019
  • Souwer IH, Bor JH, Smits P, Lagro-Janssen AL. Nifedipine vs. Placebo for Treatment of Chronic Chilblains: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Ann Fam Med. 2016 Sep;14(5):453-9. DOI: 10.1370/afm.1966. PMID: 27621162; PMCID: PMC5394377. Available at https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.1966 Accessed on 08/11/2020
  • Souwer IH, Bor JH, Smits P, Lagro-Janssen AL. Assessing the effectiveness of topical betamethasone to treat chronic chilblains: a randomized clinical trial in primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2017;67(656):e187-e193. doi:10.3399/bjgp17X689413 Available at https://dx.doi.org/10.3399%2Fbjgp17X689413 Accessed on 08/11/2020