What are Chilblains and How You Can Prevent Them

Keeping your feet healthy and protected can be tough when cooler weather comes. A Chilblain is an unsightly and uncomfortable skin issue that effects toes. Let’s take a look at chilblains, what causes them, and what you can do stop yourself from getting them.

What are Chilblains

Chilblains are painful inflammations of of toes or parts of the foot.

Chilblains, or pernio, are sensitive areas on toes in response to cold weather exposure. The small blood vessels in the skin of your toes become inflamed and painful. Chilblains typically occur in cold but not sub-freezing temperatures. So Fall and Spring are high seasons for Chilblains.

Common signs of chilblains include itching sensations, red areas, swelling, or blistering. Chilblains are not critical on their own, but they can lead to problematic infections.

What Causes Chilblains

Most podiatrist and doctors trace the roots of Chilblains to fluctuations between hot and cold temperatures with water in the area. Small blood vessels tighten near the surface of your skin in reaction to cold weather. Then these same vessels expand in response to warm temperatures. When the transition occurs too quickly, blood can seep out into the nearby skin causing inflammation and swelling.

Chilblains impact people to varying degrees of severity. Some additional risk factors include:

  • Living in a damp climate
  • Being female
  • Smoking
  • Having circulation issues

What You Can Do to Prevent Them

Have no fear; there is help for you! The main contributors to developing chilblains are poor circulation and exposure to wet/cold. You can prevent chilblains by:

  • Dress in layers
  • Keep skin protected from the cold
  • Maintain a consistent temperature
  • Keep your feet dry and warm
  • Avoid smoking

If you already have a chilblain, you can treat the problem. Apply lotion to the affected area to soothe any irritation or itching.

If you think you have chilblains, reach out to Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Centers in any of our three locations in Macomb County: St. Clair Shores, Warren, and Macomb. Call 586-779-6140 and make an appointment with Anthony Benenati, DPM, Neil Shaw, DPM or Adam Thompson, DPM.

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