OH NO ITS THAT TIME OF YEAR… Chilblains are the bane of many peoples lives and often rear their ugly heads in winter. They can be extremely uncomfortable and painful and once prone to chilblains they can become a seasonal problem. Chilblains can affect people of all ages, particularly children. The exact cause of chilblain is unknown but it is suspected to be caused by an abnormal reaction when your body is exposed to cold temperatures followed by rewarming. It is thought that they develop when the tiny blood vessels under the skin constrict under cold conditions reducing the flow of blood until the area warms up again and if warmed up too quickly can causes some leakage of fluid into nearby tissue causing irritation and inflammation. This inflammation can cause redness, itching, pain and in some instances blistering. Chilblains can mainly be found on hands, feet and the face

Signs and symptoms of chilblains may include:

  • Small, itchy red areas on your skin, often on your feet or hands
  • Blistering or skin ulcers
  • Swelling of your skin
  • Burning sensation on your skin
  • Pain
  • Changes in skin colour from red to dark blue.

How to prevent Chilblains

  • Wear numerous thin breathable layers, so you can remove gradually as your body warms up. Wear insulated gloves and warm, insulated, water-resistant footwear with a substantial sole.
  • Wear socks that will help regulate your foot temperature, retaining heat. moisture wicking materials are also advisable to prevent your feet becoming damp with sweat – if your socks are wet with sweat, this will cause your feet to become cold very quickly. Natural fibre materials such as wool and bamboo are great for winter and summer. Bamboo socks can be purchased from both our clinics.
  • Cover all exposed skin, with suitable layers as completely as possible when going outside in cold weather. Thin tights are not classed as a suitable layer – they provide no insulation at all.
  • Keep your hands, feet and face dry and warm and at a regulated temperature.
  • Keep your home and workplace comfortably warm, this is extremely important.
  • Smoking can contribute to poor circulation and so stopping smoking may help.
  • Do not try and warm your skin too quickly, avoid car heaters blasting down directly onto your feet, avoid placing your feet directly onto radiators or in front of direct heat. Water bottles should also be avoided.
  • As you leave a warm indoor space, add an extra layer to your feet to try and keep the temperature of your feet regulated.
  • Do not wear tight footwear – are sure you are able you wriggle your toes.

Treatments for chilblains.

Chilblains will usually clear up on their own between one to three weeks. If the chilblains are particularly painful pain relief and anti-inflammatories may help (Check with GP if unsure) and if you are really suffering with them, your GP may prescribe Nifedipine or a topical corticosteroid. If however you are able to tolerate the pain, below are some tips that may help.

  • If your feet get cold, gentle re-warm with extra layers – do not rub the area or add direct heat.
  • Avoiding cold exposure whenever possible – Do not wear thin tights.
  • Keep your feet warm and dry and wear natural fibre socks.
  • Apply chilblain treatment lotion to alleviate itching. Some also may help stimulate your circulation. (Sold at The Foot Room)
  • Avoiding itching the area – if you are prone to doing this in your sleep, wear socks.
  • If the chilblains blister or there is a break the skin, make sure your bathe in warm salty water, apply am antiseptic and apply a dressing to prevent infection,

If you have any questions about chilblains, please do not hesitate to contact us at The Foot Room on 01772 378812.

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