Winter Weather, Cold Feet & Chilblains


Every year when the cold hits we see a worrying increase in feet suffering from chilblains particularly on the toes.

Chilblains are an uncomfortable and often painful skin condition that occur as a reaction to cold temperatures. Symptoms typically include a burning or itching sensation, swelling or colour change from pale pink to red or dark blue in the affected areas. In more severe cases the surface of the skin may break and sores or blisters can develop. Chilblains rarely cause permanent damage but they are uncomfortable and do require treatment to prevent ulcers and/or infection. ​If you suffer recurrent or chronic chilblains you should discuss this with your Podiatrist…

Factors that increase risk of chilblains include:

  • Poor circulation
  • Family history of chilblains
  • Exposure of skin to cold & damp conditions
  • Lack of appropriate warm clothing – not enough layers or wearing cotton
  • Women are more likely to get chilblains than men
  • Low body weight
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon – a condition that affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body, usually fingers and toes
  • Autoimmune disease

To prevent chilblains:

  • Dress appropriately for the weather with several layers of woollen or synthetic clothing
  • Dry shoes between wear
  • Change socks as soon as they get damp
  • Limit exposure to cold
  • If your feet get cold warm them slowly under warm water

At Rural Health, our Podiatrists are experienced in assessment and treatment of Chilblains. For further information phone 02 5926 3806​.

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