A condition that primarily affects the feet and, less commonly, the hands, Erythromelalgia manifests itself by causing intense, burning pain, severe redness (erythema), and increased skin temperature.
In some individuals, symptoms may begin gradually, while, in others, it may have a sudden (acute) onset, becoming severe over a few weeks.
The specific underlying cause of erythromelalgia is unknown, though the condition is thought to result from a dysfunction in the normal narrowing and widening of certain blood vessels, leading to abnormalities of blood flow to the extremities.
The symptoms of erythromelalgia can often be relieved with cooling, particularly with ice water. However, many experts believe that repeated immersion can serve to trigger symptom episodes and may lead to skin injury and potentially serious complications. Such complications may include infection, nonhealing skin sores (ulcers) and localised tissue loss (necrosis). However, medications are also available that can help to reduce symptoms. If you think you have erythromelalgia, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.