Healthy Feet - chilblain free

It is so easy to choose the stylish option when considering winter footwear. However, I wonder if you’d still go for form over function when knowing the risks you are taking! Chilblains are a common winter culprit, especially those wearing inappropriate footwear – keep reading to find out more!

What are chilblains?

Chilblains, also known as Perino, are small itchy, red swellings on the skin. Sadly, they can become increasingly painful, especially if left untreated, leaving the skin cracked and open to infection. They are most commonly found on your fingers and toes but can also develop on your face and legs. Other areas of your feet are at risk if they are already exposed to pressure, for instance, from bunions or areas squeezed by tight-fitting footwear.

What causes chilblains?

Chilblains develop when the tiny blood vessels under your skin get smaller due to cold conditions; this, in turn, reduces the blood flow. Furthermore, if your skin warms up too quickly, the blood vessels expand, and blood rushes to your fingers and toes, causing redness and swelling. A large percentage of people will develop chilblains, but this is not the case for everyone; it is also predominantly based on the efficiency of your circulation. Individuals who experience poor circulation and other health conditions concerning the blood vessels are more prone to the development of chilblains. 

In addition, damp or draughty conditions, dietary factors and hormonal imbalance can also be contributory factors. 

Who can get them, and how will you know?

Although chilblains are common, they primarily affect those who work outdoors during the winter or do not wear socks or tights during the colder months. Older adults, whose circulation is not as efficient as it used to be, people who do not participate in enough exercise and those suffering from anaemia are also susceptible. 

Vulnerable people will experience a burning sensation, followed by a lot of itching on their hands and feet. In warmer environments, these symptoms may be intensified, causing swelling, redness and in extreme cases, the skin’s surface may break, and sores may develop. 

What are the treatment options?

Chilblains will usually disperse on their own within two to three weeks; although, there are several things you can try to get rid of them on your own and stop them from coming back in the future. 

  • Apply a soothing lotion to itchy areas containing witch hazel or calamine. 
  • Keep your toes warm and dry as much as possible. 
  • If the skin breaks, apply a dressing to keep infection away. 
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Participate in regular exercise. 
  • Take paracetamol and ibuprofen to ease the pain. 

The best way to prevent chilblains is to keep your legs, feet and bodies warm, especially if you suffer from poor circulation and limited mobility. Items such as trousers, long boots, hats and gloves will help!

If you’re suffering from any foot problems, contact us today to book an appointment, we will be happy to help!