What are Chilblains?
Chilblains are red bumps which appear on the skin following sudden changes in temperature. The blood vessels which supply the toes are some of the smallest in the body In cold conditions these blood vessels constrict and become even smaller, however if the vessels are made to dilate rapidly as the result of a change in temperature small amounts of blood are thought to leak out of the vessel producing the painful swellings in the skin.
Who is most susceptible to developing chilblains?
Anyone can suffer from chilblains however some patient groups are more susceptible than others, they include;
- Individuals who work outdoors
- Individuals with poor or compromised circulation
- Those who wear thin tights, socks or shoes outdoors in cold weather
- People with circulatory disorders such as Raynaud's phenomenon
- Females are more disposed to chilblains than men
How are chilblains treated in podiatry?
A podiatrist may use the following treatment methods in the management of a chilblain;
- Assess the skin in the affected area looking for cracks or signs of infection
- Carefully reduce any overlying callus (hard skin)
- If the skin has broken or is ulcerated the area will be treated and dressed with a dry dressing
- Provide the patient with advice and education on how to prevent the chilblains from recurring i.e. wearing the correct footwear to suit the weather conditions
- Padding and strapping techniques may be used to relieve the pressure on the affected area
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