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I have been using Balmosa Cream for years now, as I have always suffered from chilblains. I have also, always had poor circulation, but it wasn't until I was eighteen, that I found out I had a mild form of Raynaud's.
Having Raynaud's means that when I start to get cold, my blood vessels go into a spasm and the blood can not get through to my fingers. My toes are not quite as bad, but they do go purple and are cold even in summer. In the winter I constantly have chilblains, sometimes two or three on a toe!
Balmosa Cream is for unbroken chilblains. When I rub it into my toes, the cream warms them and leaves them feeling soothed and painfree for a few hours. Whenever I feel my toes getting itchy and sore again, I apply another thin layer and it is quickly absorbed. If my chilblains are really bad, I will also apply a layer before I get into bed and wear an old pair of socks. By the morning, my toes always feel more comfortable.
Balmosa can also be used to relieve sprains, bruising, back pain, muscular aches, rheumatism, fibrositis, lumbago and sciatica.
I have to admit that my cream is well past it's use by date, but still works well. I have had a look around and I can only find it for sale in online stores at around £1.49 for a 40gram tube.
Balmosa is suitable for adults and children over 12 years old.
I wouldn't blame you thinking that chilblains are an old-fashioned complaint, and that they most probably disappeared back in the 18th century along with rickets, bubonic plague, distemper and scurvy. And if you weren't thinking that chilblains had been eradicated, then you firmly believed that they were solely the province of the elderly and immobile. Sadly not. Chilblains are alive and kicking in the 21st century and they can affect anyone of any age. I should know - I've been suffering them every winter for the last four years. It's mostly a case of grin and bear it, as there is no known cure for the complaint. There are various herbal remedies and old wives tales which purport to help relieve the itching and swelling...but who honestly wants to go around stinking to high heaven after coating ones fingers in raw onion juice or smearing raw salted potatoes in your digits? I kid you not, both these are suggested "remedies"!
I was, therefore, interested to read about Balmosa cream, which claimed to help sooth itching, swollen chilblains. My mother-in-law told us about it last winter, but both she and I failed to find a chemist that stocked it. This year, I got myself organized and sourced a tube of Balmosa cream before the cold weather kicked in. Yet again, I failed to find it in my local chemist, so I ended up buying it online via a chemist trading on eBay.
~~ WHAT IS BALMOSA CREAM AND HOW DOES IT WORK? ~~
Balmosa Cream is an analgesic rubefacient, or in English, a warming pain relieving cream. It works a bit like Deep Heat / Ralgex in that it produces a sensation of warmth when applied to the skin which soothes and relieves muscular aches and pains. It's a thin, white cream which is easily absorbed into the skin where it is applied. Balmosa cream is recommended for relieving symptoms associated with rheumatic conditions, muscle stiffness, fibrositis, back pain, sciatica, bruising, strains and sprains.
Aches and pains aside, the reason I was so interested in trying Balmosa cream was because it claimed to be one of the only licensed preparations to help soothe the pain associated with unbroken chilblains. By gentling massaging the cream into your chilblains, the cream *should* help reduce the swelling and ease the itching. Please note, you should only ever apply Balmosa cream to unbroken chilblains, as it will sting like anything if you put it on sore or raw skin. If you have broken or ulcerated chilblains then you need to apply an antiseptic dressing instead. If your chilblains are slow to heal then you need to see a doctor or a pharmacist.
Balmosa cream contains a combination of camphor, menthol, methyl salicylate and oleoresin capsicum. Menthol acts as a natural anesthetic, thereby numbing your skin. It also helps relieve itching by causing the blood vessels on the surface of the skin to widen. Methyl silicylate also helps blood circulation and is a good anesthetic. Camphor, and oloeresin capsicum are counter-irritants which produce heat (and redness to your skin). I must say that the quantities of menthol used in Balmosa cream are a lot less than those used in Deep Heat and Ralgex, therefore making it less strong smelling. The problem with Deep Heat and Ralgex is that they really do smell very strongly indeed, and everyone knows you're wearing them. Therefore Balmosa cream does score strongly in this area as it is relatively mild in odour in comparison.
The cream works by stimulating ones capillaries, causing them to dilate, thus improving circulation. Once applied the cream causes a sensation of warmth in the affected area, thus soothing and relieving the pain.
~~ WHAT ARE CHILBLAINS? ~~
Some of you may be thinking, what's the point of telling us all about chilblains in this review; after all anyone reading a review on Balmosa cream probably already has chilblains and they're looking for some kind of relief from them. However, the reason why I'm including a lengthy section on chilblains in this review is because you may not know you actually have them. I spent two winters not realizing that my swollen, itchy fingers were in fact chilblains, and not an allergic reaction to something I'd touched, or some new cosmetic. Added to which, when one of my fingers became so enlarged and swollen I took it off to the doctors (I went with it....obviously.....) for inspection and a potential cure. Sadly the doctor was completely stumped by my swollen finger, despite calling in two other colleagues to look at it. In the end they prescribed me with some Zovirax (cold sore cream), and suggested I rub it on the swelling twice a day. Did it help? No, not in the slightest. So there you go, the medical establishment were a big fat waste of time and didn't manage to diagnose a simple case of chilblains. In the end, someone I know suggested I may have chilblains, I did some Googling, uncovered a selection of revolting looking photos of people's fingers and toes...and concluded I had chilblains. And despite my best intentions, the damn things come back on my right hand every time there's a cold snap.
As I said earlier, it's a commonly upheld believe that chilblains are a thing of the past. Sadly that's a total misconception as they're still all too common, and at least 1 in 10 of us will suffer with them at some stage in our lives. And once you've had them once, you tend to get them again, again and again...... In fact they tend to reappear every time we experience a cold snap. I had a lovely selection of chilblains on three fingers of my right hand which developed due to the cold weather of late November/early December. The itching and swelling reached a peak over Christmas, and then the skin on all three fingers started peeling off around the New Year. Result - that was the end of this year's chilblain episode...or so I thought. Sadly, the snowy cold snap of early January as seem my thumb and middle finger (the two unaffected digits over Xmas) now displaying the first signs of developing chilblains. Oh deep joy...here we go again.
Just in case you don't know much about them, chilblains are small itchy red swellings which develop on mostly fingers and toes, though some people can get them on their ears or nose. Chilblains are mostly caused by cold weather and poor circulation. The blood vessels in your fingers or toes constrict when they're cold and the blood supply slows down. When the skin starts to warm up again there is leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the tissues and this may result in swelling and pain. That said, not everyone who suffers from cold hands or feet will develop chilblains. It's a combination of poor circulation and an abnormal reaction to cold temperatures. Those most at risk are the elderly, those that work outdoors or those with circulation problems (i.e. Raynaud's Syndrome). I'm not elderly and I work in a heated office so I have no idea why I should suffer! I rather think that it's down to poor circulation of the blood flow to my right hand for some strange reason, as the left hand remains unaffected (touchwood).
Chilblains tend to last anything up to 14 days. They start off as red angry looking swellings. They then start to itch (these symptoms often intensify when going into a warm room) and then become rather purple looking. Its best not to scratch them too much as this can break the skin. After 14 days or so the swelling goes down, your fingers turn an even deeper maroon colour, and then the skin starts to split, blister or peel. You need to be careful that infection doesn't set in once the skin breaks. Sometimes the swelling can be so bad it will affect the nail bed. Last year, I had ridge form in the nail of one finger which took six months to grow out.
~~HOW DO YOU USE BALMOSA CREAM? ~~
You need to rub Balmosa cream into your skin - it's best applied to dry skin. Almost immediately you will feel the menthol starting to cool your skin down. After a minute or so your skin will start to tingle and you will feel the area gently starting to warm up.
Balmosa cream can be applied as often as you like. However, I reckon it's best to limit the application to two or three times daily, as the afflicted area may become desensitized to the soothing effects of the cream.
Although Balmosa cream is not a strong smelling as other pain relieving lotions, you still need to wash your hands thoroughly after use, as it will smart if you get the tiniest bit in your eye or other sensitive parts. If you do get some in your eye, or worse, bathe the area in cold water.
Warnings on using the cream are as follows:-
* Avoid contact of this medicine with the eyes and the moist membranes lining the inside of certain parts of the body, e.g. mouth, nasal passages (mucous membranes). Rinse with cold water if accidental contact occurs.
* Avoid use on the face in children
* If itching or irritation occurs discontinue use
* Avoid use on broken or inflamed skin
~~ THE COST AND AVAILABILITY ~~
Balmosa Cream is only available in one size; a 40g tube of cream will set you back anything from £1.40 to £1.89. The cream is suitable for all ages and children from 12 years old.
According to Balmosa's website, this cream is *supposed* to be stocked in all major chemists such as Boots, Lloyds and Superdrug. You can also obtain it via prescription from your GP. However, I had a terrible job sourcing some last winter - we tried several chemists in the Chichester area and all reported no stocks. My mother-in-law tried to source some in Bournemouth and she too drew a blank. This year I managed to track some down on eBay for £1.89 plus postage and packing.
The cream comes packaged in a tube inside a blue and purple cardboard box. I wonder if the colours on the box were intended to match the colour your fingers and toes go once the chilblains set in!?
~~ AND DOES IT WORK? ~~
In a word, not really. Sadly, Balmosa cream has little to no effect on soothing my chilblains. Despite applying this cream morning, noon and night, it has done little to reduce the swelling in my fingers. Similarly, the cream had little to no effect on the itching once that started either.
On Christmas day my partner and parents got so fed up with my continually trying to scratch my chilblains, they suggested I try some juice from a live Aloe Vera plant on my fingers instead of reaching for the Balmosa cream. Although the Aloe Vera juice stained my fingers quite badly, the swelling did go down substantially and the itching reduced. However, I'm not sure whether that was thanks to the Aloe Vera or whether my chilblains had reached the end of their two week period and were healing anyway. It does make you wonder if the herbal/plant remedies really are much more effective though. Maybe I shall try the raw onion or the potato soaked in salt next time, as the Balmosa cream certainly doesn't seem to do anything for me.
However, it's not all bad news - Balmosa cream is effective on aches and pains, so it's not a total waste of money. It's not as effective as either Deep Heat or Ralgex, but it does smell a lot nicer.
~~ RECOMMENDATION ~~
If you suffer from chilblains then I really cannot, in all honesty, recommend this cream. It did absolutely nothing for mine, despite applying copious amounts over a prolonged period. I would suggest that natural remedies are probably more effective on chilblains and there is a lot to be said for old wives tales in this instance. Luckily the cream is not too expensive to buy, so I don't consider it a total waste of money. Added to which I am sure I will be able to use the remainder of the cream up on any muscular aches and pains that hit my household in the future. It seems more than effective in treating minor aches, pains and bruises. I'm just bitterly disappointed it did nothing to alleviate the misery of my chilblains. Now where did I put that onion?
I'm going to award it one star, as it failed to be of use on the one symptom I wanted it to soothe. However, it gains another star as I will be able to use for minor muscular pains.
Not recommended for easing chilblains. Recommended for minor aches and pains instead.
~ FURTHER DETAILS ~~
Balmosa cream can be used on:-
* Red itchy swellings that develop on the extremities in cold weather (chilblains)
* Inflammation of fibrous tissue such as muscle (fibrositis)
* Pain in mid and lower back (lumbago)
* Pain in the lower back and hip which travels down the back of the thigh into the leg (sciatica)
* Pain in the muscles and bones (musculoskeletal pain)
Balmosa Cream (Avicenna Plc)
212-220 Addington Road
~~ TOP TIPS TO AVOID CHILBLAINS ~~
Keep yourself warm!
This is the single most important thing you can do to help prevent chilblains. Wear thick socks or gloves at all times. I wear gloves at work all day - it makes typing a little tricky at times, but it's been than exposing my poor swollen fingers to the elements or being bashed about.
Layering it on!
Another good idea is to wear lots of layers - air trapped between several loose layers acts as an insulation system and is much more effective than one single thick layer.
Use your head!
If you're outside then remember to wear a hat - at least 50% of body heat is lost through our heads.
Exercising regularly helps to improve ones circulation. Just swinging your arms through a 360 degree circle will stimulate circulation through the shoulders thus improving blood flow to the hands and fingers.
The heat is on!
Try not to rapidly re-warm your limbs when coming in from the cold - temping though it is - placing hands and feet directly onto a radiator can cause pain. It's better to dip your hands or feet into warm (not hot) water.
Some more useful advice and various herbal remedies can be found at: