As Melbourne quickly descends into the very cold days and nights of winter, we start to see patients coming into the clinic with chilblains. Chilblains often appear as red or purple patches on the toes which are often swollen and itchy.
When our feet are cold or exposed to cold temperatures the capillaries in our toes shrink to maintain heat and warmth. If we then warm our feet too quickly this can lead to fluid and blood leaking into the toes and causing chilblains.
Chilblains are quite common and can affect anyone of any age. However, we most commonly see them in older patients or those with autoimmune conditions such as Raynaud’s or lupus. This condition is also commonly seen in children or those with a family history of chilblains.
Chilblains can cause significant discomfort or pain in the toes if left untreated. In more severe cases they can blister and are also commonly seen on fingers.
Treatment/Management of Chilblains
If you are suffering from chilblains, it is important to keep your feet warm and avoid rapid temperature change.
- Put on socks and slippers/shoes to begin warming feet slowly.
- Dry feet adequately after showering and dress them first with warm socks.
- Wear natural fibre socks such as cotton or wool (as these are usually warmer and thicker).
- Wear socks and shoes when going out and about particularly on cold days.
- Put feet directly in front of the heater to warm up.
- Jump straight into a steaming hot shower, instead start with a warm shower and gradually increase temperature.
- Walk around barefoot particularly on cold flooring such as tiles. Instead, pop some socks and slippers on.
If you think you may have chilblains it is important to have them properly assessed. Our podiatrists at both Point Cook and Yarraville are able to assess your feet and develop a management and treatment plan to help you.