Best Management for Chilblains
The winter chill is well and truly here which brings with it for some unlucky people Chilblains.
As a Podiatrist, we have recently had a large surge in the number of clients suffering from Chilblains.
There is a limited amount of research that has been done on what causes Chilblains and what is the best management for them, but here is my best advice to help you through the winter.
What are Chilblains?
Chilblains are a painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to exposure to extreme changes in temperature.
Chilblains are common in the winter months due to the sudden changes in temperature.
They usually resolve in one to two weeks however if not managed correctly they can ulcerate.
What Causes Chilblains?
There are various theories behind the cause of Chilblains however the exact cause is still not fully understood.
How I explain the cause of Chilblains to my clients is that it is the response of your temperature receptors in your blood vessels to a sudden change in temperature (cold) which causes the blood vessels to constrict.
If you then warm up too quickly there is a sudden large rush of blood and proteins to these constricted and inflamed vessels causing damage/bursts to the blood vessels
These damaged blood vessels then leak blood out into the surrounding dermal tissue causing blistering and pain.
How to Prevent Chilblains
The best way to manage Chilblains is to prevent them in the first place, which is often difficult.
However, here are my tips to do best prevent Chilblains:
1. Keep Your Feet Warm
Wear warm, insulated socks, ugg boots and avoid anytime being barefoot.
2. Avoid Sudden Changes in Temperature
If your feet do get cold then slowly and gradually warm them back up.
If you stick your feet directly in front of a heater and warm your feet too quickly, this sudden change in temperature can cause Chilblains to develop.
3. Chilblain Cream and Massage
Chilblain creams are best used in the preventative stage to keep your feet warm.
These creams contain properties that warm the skin and dilate your blood vessels to improve blood flow.
Gentle massage in the area may also help to improve blood flow and increase the warmth in your feet.
Take caution when using Chilblain creams though because if you use them when your feet are already cold it may warm your feet too quickly.
Check your feet daily to see if any blisters develop or become worse and act accordingly.
Have regular appointments with your Podiatrist as it is often difficult to properly assess all aspects of your feet and vascular supply.
5. Stop Smoking
Nicotine found in Cigarettes constricts your blood vessels.
People who are smokers are at more risk of developing Chilblains as well as many other terrible conditions!
How to Treat Chilblains
If the blister becomes broken down, dressings and offloading are required to allow the wounds to heal, prevent infection and reduce your pain.
This will be determined by your Podiatrist depending on the wound.
Your Podiatrist will advise you on how you will continue to dress your wound until it has fully healed.
Toe Foams, Toe Props and Felt Paddings
These can be used to offload the broken down areas to help reduce pressure on the sores and reduce pain when walking.
First we prevent chilblains by keeping your feet warm, avoiding sudden changes in temperature and chilblains cream and massage
If you do have chilblains we can help by dressing the wounds and offloading with foams and paddings
We are here to help
If you need any further information about how to manage your Chilblains, or are having any foot or leg problems, just send us a message or call us on 8330 0004 & I'll be more than happy to explain how we can help.
Yours in helping to build amazing lives from the feet up,
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry