February 26, 2018
It is likely that we will be experiencing a significant drop in temperature locally over the next few days. One of the foot problems with this sudden change in temperature is chilblains so we wanted to share some information and advice to reduce the chances of you suffering from this, often painful, condition.
What are they?
Chilblains are common and usually found on the toes and present as small red or purple bumps on the toes. They can be painful and itchy. They can break open and become ulcers which can lead to infection. They will usually go within one or two weeks.
Chilblains are caused by sudden drops in temperature causing the small capillaries to constrict and prevent blood flow getting to the tips of the toes. Problems often occur when feet are warmed too quickly after being chilled.
Individuals most likely to be affected include:-
- The young or elderly
- Those with poor circulation
- People working in cold environments
- Those that are not very active
- Individuals who have anaemia
It is important not to scratch chilblains even though they may be itchy. This will increase the risk of the chilblains breaking open and becoming infected.
Unsurprisingly the best way of avoiding chilblains in the first place is to keep the toes, feet and legs warm and if they do become chilled, warm them gradually.
Try to avoid wearing anything that constricts the feet and will therefore reduce the blood supply. Quality hosiery rather than quantity is the better approach.
Lotions such as witch hazel and calamine can be soothing and creams like lanolin can help insulate the feet at night.
If the chilblains have broken causing a wound, antiseptic ointment should be used together with a sterile dressing. If you have a condition such as diabetes you may be more at risk of infection. If in doubt see your GP or podiatrist.