Chilly Weather and Chilblains

Winter Weather and Chilbains

Although winter has been fairly mild so far it is likely that as we move through the usual two coldest months of the year some of you develop chilblains.

Chilblains, whilst being uncomfortable rarely cause any permanent damage. The present themselves as small red or purple bumps on the toes (and other extremeties), they can be painfl and itchy. Sometimes they break open and become ulcers which can lead to infection.

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:-Chilblains

  • The young or elderly
  • Those with poor circulation
  • People working in cold environments
  • Those that are not very active
  • Individuals who have anaemia

Management

It is important not to scratch them even though they may be itchy. Scratching will increase the risk of the chilblains breaking open and becoming infected.

Unsurprisingly the best way of avoiding this condition 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, such as tight shoes or event tight hosiery, that can reduce the blood supply. Good quality shoes/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 call us to book an appointment with one of our podiatrist.

Lloyd Clark-Morris,

Senior Podiatrist

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