Chilblains: those small, red, itchy swellings on toes

Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Wouldn’t you just love to be on a warm tropical island right now and away from these bone chilling temperatures, ice (oh, the ice) and snow? Do yourself a favour and pay extra attention to your feet during the winter months, especially if you have circulation problems or diabetes.  Keeping your feet healthy during the winter will be rewarded by the enjoyment of warmer weather when it comes.

What are Chilblains?

22262012093922Chilblains are a common cold weather foot problem.  Chilblains are small, red, itchy swellings on the skin. They are caused when the skin is exposed to cold weather for long periods of time. In the cold, the blood vessels in your toes get smaller in size. When your toes get warm again, the blood vessels go back to their normal size. If your toes get warm too fast, blood can leak out of the blood vessels and cause the redness, swelling, blistering, and pain associated with chilblains. Chilblains usually form on the smaller toes, but they can also develop on areas of the feet that carry more pressure — the same areas where bunions, corns, and calluses form.

Preventing Chilblains

The first thing you should do to prevent chilblains is to be sure you are keeping your feet covered and warm when you are outdoors. When you return home, do not rush to heat your feet. Do not dip your feet in a warm foot bath or use a heated blanket. If you have a fireplace, do not warm your feet by placing them close to the fire. Let your feet warm up a little at a time. Try walking around the house or gently massaging your feet to warm them.

Unfortunately, cold weather can be harder for people with conditions like poor circulation and diabetes. These conditions can make it difficult for you to know when your feet are too cold. That’s one of the reasons why it is always a good idea to bring your winter footwear along to your chiropody appointment – before the thermometer begins its descent. Your chiropodist knows your feet and will let you know if your winter foot wear has the right kind of support and structure to keep your feet warm and dry.

For more information on winter footcare, contact us today! We’re a friendly bunch!

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