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Three weeks of cold weather in Seattle is catching up, just saw a case of Pernio.

Per-ni-who?  Pernio is an inflammation in the hands, feet, or ears from cold.  There is also a variety of it that is reported to show up on the thighs of women who ride horses (apparently their thighs get pretty cold).  It shows up as red-purple areas that are usually painful, itchy or burn.  Exposure to cold as well as damp conditions bring it on.  Its thought to be an abnormal vasospastic response.  Apparently, 10% of people in England have pernio, but I haven’t been able to find data on how many people in the Seattle are affected.  It occurs more often kids, young women, and people who are very thin.

The signs of pernio can show up within a few days of the cold/damp exposure.  It will usually go away in a few weeks.

Very rarely, its associated with a variety of mostly uncommon conditions, but usually it can be diagnosed without additional testing or studies.

The keys to treating it are usually rather straightforward:

  1. Keep the affected areas warm
  2. Dress warmly to keep core temperature higher


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