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How To Treat Chilblains

If you have ever suffered chilblains, you know that they are painful and annoying.  So what can you do to treat them?

Like a lot of things, prevention is better than cure.  By this, I mean that if you do suffer from cold fingers and toes, keep those areas warm.  Not hot, but warm, you need to keep these areas at a consistent temperature, not extremes of hot and cold.  One area especially that will affect toes, is going from a warm bed to a cold bathroom floor in the morning. Warm up your slippers in your bed before you go to the bathroom in the morning, and remember to put on your slippers! When you go and have a shower in the morning, heat up the floor with hot water before you put your feet on them.

Another way to keep your feet warm is with thick woollen socks, or we are finding in our clinic bamboo socks work just as well.  Wear normal shoes around the house, as wearing slippers will cause you to claw your toes to help try and keep them on.  And at night DO NOT roast your feet near a heater, or on a hot water bottle, or on an electric blanket.  These hot items will give you chilblains as quick as anything.  Use hot water bottles and electric blankets just to heat up your bed, do not put your feet on them.  Don’t have your electric blanket on the highest setting, maybe the middle setting. Use the heater to heat up your room, you don’t have to sit on top of it, perhaps put a blanket on yourself until the heater has done its job.

So what if you already have chilblains? If you find that keeping your feet at a consistent temperature has not worked, you need to use a vasodilator.  These are medications that open up the blood vessels.  The best one I have recommended over the years is Hirudoid Ointment. This is a cream that is used to bring out bruising if you have injured yourself, and is a great product to use for chilblains.

Another method to keep those toes from getting too cold, is cocooning.  Cocooning is an old fashioned, but very effective way of getting rid of chilblains. You need Friar’s Balsam and either cotton wool or lambs wool.  This is a labour intensive method, where you coat your affected toes with the Friar’s Balsam, put on a layer of cotton wool/lambs wool (this will stick to the Friar’s Balsam), put on another coat of Friar’s Balsam, and then another layer of the wool.  You build up so that you have a ‘cocoon’ of balsam and wool.  This will stop big fluctuations in temperature subjected to your toes by the coating of this material.

If these two methods have not worked, the next option is to use nitrobid on your feet.  This has to be used in conjunction with your Doctor and Podiatrist.  Nitrobid is used for angina, and can have serious side effects or you can’t use it in certain diseases.  That is why you will need to see your Doctor before you go ahead and use this.  I know in 25 years of treating chilblains, I have only had to resort to this once.  But those people living in colder climates are at more risk, so this method may be used.

Of course, if you have any questions about this condition, don’t hesitate to contact us at the clinic.

We have HICAPS available in our clinic, which means that our patients can claim from their private health fund straight away

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Shop 2/17-19 East Parade
Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491
Email: info@sutherlandpodiatry.com.au