Chilblains are painful or itchy lesions that commonly affect the toes and fingers and are prevalent during wintertime. Low temperatures cause constriction to the arterioles that supply blood to the skin and followed by a rapid warming there is subsequent damage which can lead to a blistering and red lesion. Chilblains may cause discomfort but rarely cause any permanent damage. If exposure to the cold temperatures is avoided, they should heal within a couple of weeks.
Occasionally, an infection may develop from the blistered skin which can lead to permanent scarring or ulceration.
Keeping your feet warm throughout the winter is the best way to try and prevent chilblains. To do this you should wear a well-fitting full shoe, natural fibre socks and a thermal lined insole. You could consider soaking your feet in warm water regularly to help maintain temperature.
If your feet do get cold, you must remember to slowly warm the foot and do not let the temperature rise too quickly.
A number of products are available from pharmacies to help. A healthy diet and regular exercise have been shown to reduce chilblains.