The weather is changing, and the temperatures are dropping. When we get cold, our instinct is to get warm as quickly as possible, and we often do so by using items such as hot water bottles or showers. However, for some people, this could be causing other issues.
When exposed to cold conditions, our blood vessels constrict, limiting blood flow to the affected areas. However, upon rewarming, the blood vessels can expand too quickly in some cases, causing leakage of fluid into the surrounding tissues and triggering an inflammatory response. This results in the development of chilblains, which are also known as pernio.
Fast chilblain treatment is important as it can help to reduce your discomfort, prevent complications, and promote healing. At The Foot Clinic, we can provide appropriate care with an aim to help improve your symptoms and avoid further damage to the affected areas.
What Causes Chilblains
Chilblains are primarily caused by the response of the small blood vessels in the skin to cold temperatures. An abnormal vascular response, combined with underlying factors, can increase the likelihood of developing chilblains. These may include elements such as the following:
Chilblains are more common in cold climates or during the winter. The issue can begin or worsen after sudden changes in temperature, particularly when it involves your extremities. This can include factors such as putting something hot against your cold skin in an effort to warm up quickly or moving suddenly from a cold environment to a warm environment. For this reason, it is important to focus on warming your entire body up, rather than specific parts, and do so slowly.
People with poor circulation can be more susceptible to chilblains.
This may include conditions such as peripheral artery disease, diabetes, or Raynaud's phenomenon.
Sensitivity to cold
Some people have heightened sensitivity to cold temperatures, which can increase the risk of developing chilblains. This may be due to the altered response of the blood vessels and/or the increased likelihood that these people will want to warm up quickly in high temperatures after being cold.
Factors such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and improper footwear can contribute to poor circulation and increase your risk of chilblains. Certain occupations or activities that involve prolonged exposure to cold or damp conditions can also increase your risk.
Genetics may make some people more prone to developing chilblains. They may have a predisposition that could make their blood vessels more sensitive to temperature changes, leading to an abnormal response. This is not yet fully understood or confirmed.
Symptoms Of Chilblains
Chilblains are typically small patches on the skin that are usually found on extremities, such as fingers or toes. These areas can involve symptoms such as the following:
- Tenderness and/or a burning sensation.
In severe cases, blisters or ulcerations may occur.
How To Prevent Chilblains
To prevent chilblains from occurring or worsening, there are several steps that you can take. These can include:
- Keeping your body warm by, for example, wearing appropriate clothing.
- Avoiding sudden temperature changes.
- Seeking guidance regarding your circulation if this is a risk factor for you.
Treatment For Chilblains
At The Foot Clinic, we can provide comprehensive education on how to avoid chilblains, especially when you are undertaking risky activities or have underlying factors that increase the chance of developing chilblains. We can also deliver care to alleviate your symptoms and guide you on how to continue improving the issue.
Treating chilblains is generally straightforward unless they have been left untreated for an extended time or are particularly severe. There are several steps we may undertake or advise to treat the affected areas. This can include elements such as:
- Warming up the area gently and slowly.
- Applying appropriate and soothing creams that can help with the symptoms.
- Avoiding scratching the chilblains to prevent infection.
Visit The Foot Clinic For Chilblain Treatment
Chilblains can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, can develop into significant issues. Because they occur due to an abnormal response of small blood vessels to changes in temperature, there are some simple steps to prevent and treat chilblains. At The Foot Clinic, we are qualified and experienced in delivering high-quality care to help alleviate your symptoms and avoid complications.
If you are experiencing the signs of chilblains, please contact our friendly team to book an appointment so that we can identify the issue, develop a personalised treatment plan, and help to prevent the problem from worsening.