Chilblains are an abnormal reaction of the skin circulation that occur in colder climates. They typically start during the winter (when the weather gets colder) – the initial symptoms include burning and itching in the area of the developing chilblain. They first appear as small itchy and red areas on the skin. Chilblains become increasingly painful as they get congested and develop into a dark blue appearance. They may also become swollen. As they dry out, the chilblain may leave cracks in the skin, increasing the risk of getting an infection. They are common on the toes, but can also affect the fingers and the face (especially the nose and ears).
They are more common in those that are just more susceptible to them, however the reasons for this are not clear. Chilblains occur when there is too rapid a change from cold to warm, so the they occur after the foot is cold. A typical story is for the development of chilblains is after being outside in the cold, the foot is placed next to a heat source (eg heater) when coming back inside from the cold. The small blood vessels do not respond quickly enough to the change in temperature resulting in the irritation and inflammation due to the chemicals that get released.
They are not really due to poor circulation, as those with good circulation often develop them. It is more of a case of how the circulation responds or reacts to changes in temperature.
Treatment of Chilblains:
The best treatment is prevention. Do not allow the foot to get cold by wearing adequate hosiery and shoes. If they do get cold, then do not place them in front of a heat source to warm them up.
Once a chilblain has developed then it needs to be looked after. The area must be protected. You should see a Podiatrist if there are any corns or calluses in the area or the lesion is broken.
Soothing creams and lotions are often used to ease the symptoms and stimulate the circulation into removing the waste products that have built up..
FootStore.au products for Chilblains
We have a cream that has been especially made for us and tested by podiatrists who see a lot of chilblains. If you have chilblains, it is a cream that is worth trying.
For more of the latest research and thoughts on this, check out the chilblains threads on Podiatry Arena (this website is for podiatrists, but does contain all the latest information).