Chilblains- Winter Foot Health
What are Chilblains?
Chilblains are small itchy red lumps that can appear on the skin after you have been in the cold, typically affecting the feet and hands, but can be found on the ears and nose.
1 in 10 people in the UK are affected by Chilblains.
The skin may first become itchy, then red and swollen with a burning sensation and very tender to touch. Chilblains usually appear on the extremities such as the toes, fingers and ears. Dampness, cold winds and temperatures that are around freezing can cause damage to unprotected skin.
Chilblains usually appear a few hours after you have been in the cold. When cold the small blood vessels under the skin narrow (constrict) which causes the blood supply to areas of skin to then become very slow and sluggish. As the skin warms and the small blood vessels open (dilate), there is some leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the tissues which causes areas of inflammation and swelling under the skin leading to chilblains.
Chilblains usually clear up on their own, within 1-2 weeks, but if you have repeated problems seek advice.
Who is at most risk of getting Chilblains?
- Women are affected more frequently than men
- Chilblains are most frequent in young children and middle-aged women.
- Those who are exposed to the cold and damp frequently
- Low body weight or a poor diet
- Underlying medical conditions such as Raynaud’s phenomenon or conditions that cause poor circulation, & lupus erythematosus
- Family history
- Tight shoes.
- Avoid scratching as this can cause the skin to break down
- Do not walk barefoot on cold surfaces
- Avoid extremes of temperature and Wearing adequate clothing including warm gloves and socks.
- Stop smoking
- Do not put feet in front of direct heat or on radiators or hot water bottles.
- Regular exercise and a healthy low-fat diet packed with fruit and vegetables, are essential to keep the circulation strong.
- Avoidance of drugs that may cause blood vessel constriction such as caffeine and decongestants
Footwear and socks
It is often mistaken that the more socks and tights they wear the warmer the feet will be. Unfortunatley, this can cause restriction of the circulation and increases the chilling of the feet.
It is often the quality and materials of the socks and the footwear and not which is important. Natural fibres are important such as cotton and wool, which are also absorbent.
Footwear lined with sheepskin can also provide warmth.
If left untreated the skin can breakdown leaving an open wound and the area susceptible to infection.
If your symptoms persist please seek further advice from your Podiatrist (To find a Podiatrist near to you please click here), or see your GP.
To make an appointment or for further details please click here.