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Another Winter Foot Condition – Chilblains

One winter foot problem I am still seeing a lot of at the moment are Chilblains.chilblains

So what are chilblains? Chilblains are small, itchy, painful red swellings on the skin.  We usually see them in people with poor circulation in their feet.  It is an abnormal reaction to the cold weather and are usually seen on the tips of the toes, fingertips and earlobes.

The tiny blood vessels under the skin constrict when the skin gets cold. If there is a change in temperature, those blood vessels enlarge and there is an increase in blood flow. But in people with circulation problems, this happens slowly, so there is leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. This causes areas of inflammation and swelling leading to chilblains.

Other symptoms of chilblains are initially they turn red, but the they can turn purple the longer you have them.  Sometimes the skin can blister over the lesion, which can delay it healing.  The worse case senario, the chilblain can ulcerate which makes the lesion prone to infection.

So how can you prevent chilblains? Keep your feet warm when out in the elements using warm socks. If you have been out in the cold and your feet are freezing, heat them up slowly, don’t roast them in front of a heater or hot water bottle. In the morning don’t stand on a cold bathroom floor, wear slippers, or if you are getting in the shower, warm the floor first with hot water before you stand on it. Sometimes medications containing beta-blockers as in certain blood pressure medication could be contributing to this condition. Always tell your doctor if this has been an issue over the past few winters.

Next week we will give you the treatment for chilblains.


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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Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491