With the first day of fall, comes the realization that winter is not far behind. Unfortunately, so is the risk of chilblains. If you’ve never heard of chilblains, you’ve probably never had them and probably don’t need to worry. But if the cold weather has caused itchy, swollen areas on your fingers and toes, you’re probably experiencing chilblains. In today’s post, Dr. Hubert Lee, at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists, in Bellevue, WA, is sharing more about this condition, including causes, symptoms, and how to prevent it.
Causes of Chilblains
Chilblains are the result of a combination of poor circulation and cold weather. In the colder weather, our blood vessels tighten to maintain body heat. If your circulation slows, this tightening can deprive your extremities of warmth and blood. People who are sedentary, underweight individuals, and seniors are more at risk. And while chilblains rarely cause permanent harm to your tissues, they can be rather painful.
Common Symptoms of Chilblains:
- Itching, burning sensation
- Blue, white, or red swollen patches
- Cracked dry skin
- Ulcers, in more extreme cases.
Chilblains are aggravated by sudden changes in temperature, such as when you are sitting in front of a fireplace or heater, and then go outdoors in the cold weather. While it seems natural to turn up the heat in your car or home or apply a hot water bottle when it’s cold, don’t do this too quickly. It’s better to warm up your entire body gradually instead.
At-Home Treatments for Chilblains:
- Don’t scratch the affected area
- Apply a soothing lotion such as witch hazel or calamine
- Retain body head with products containing Lanolin
- Wear cotton or woolen socks and wash and change them daily
- Keep your body warm, particularly your extremities, by wearing gloves, beanies, and thick socks during the winter season
- Boost circulation by exercising regularly.
Chilblains typically clear up on their own within a few weeks, but if your chilblains are too painful and cause ulceration, it’s time for a visit to your podiatrist. Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, can treat your chilblains and share tips to prevent them. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling us at 425-455-0936.