What are chilblains and how are they caused?
Chilblains are usually the result of an abnormal vascular reaction to cold stimuli. Chilblains occur at any age and the most common cause is re-warming the feet to quickly, causing rapid dilation of minor blood vessels.
Signs and symptoms usually include itchiness and redness followed by swelling. Chilblains may be single of multiple and usually subside in two to three weeks. Sometimes the reaction can be more intense wit breaks in the skin and even ulceration.
Preventative care for Chilblains
Patients who have difficulty in maintaining warmth in their feet during the cooler months should follow Coast Sport Podiatry advice for prevention of chilblains and care of their feet.
1. Sudden changes from hot to cold and cold to hot should be avoided. For example, getting out of a warm bed and stepping onto cold shower tiles and then the hot water from the shower warming up your cold feet. Warm water should be used in all showers as exceptionally hot water can exacerbate chilblain symptoms especially if the feet are very cold.
2. Adequate exercise will prevent the feet from getting cold. Exercises like moving your feet up and down, side to side should be the first treatment option for warming the feet.
3. Wear warm socks in bed, and warm stockings and slippers around the house. Do not use hot water bottles in bed especially close to feet. Do not use electric blankets on extreme heat, only on a low maintained warmth. Preferably heat the bed before sleep or turning the blanket off before getting into bed.
4. If you have suffered from chilblains previously and the area of the foot is reddened or even slightly painful apply Lasonil or Hiridoid ointment as they are vasodilators and help regulate even blood flow. This treatment should be repeated twice daily to prevent chilblains.
For broken chilblains apply a dry dressing over the area and visit Coast Sport Podiatry or your GP as soon as possible.