With winter settling in and morning temperatures feeling like they are reaching subzero, our body begins to feel the aches and pains associated with cold weather. Some people are faced with joint pain and stiffness, others muscular weakness’, and some people experience patches of red, swollen, itchy and sometimes painful skin on their extremities, known as chilblains.
Chilblains is a very common condition that affects people of all ages and is caused by the inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin, usually affecting the toes, fingers, nose and/or ears. This response is triggered by exposure to cold weather, where the blood vessels in the extremities constrict to conserve body heat. The symptoms of chilblains are exacerbated with a sudden temperature change to warm weather e.g. jumping straight into a hot shower, as the blood vessels under the skin expand more quickly compared to the nearby larger blood vessels, resulting in blood leaking into the tissue. Below are a few steps you can take to prevent chilblains.
– Avoid extreme temperature changes, slowly warm your whole body after being in cold temperatures
– Layer up your clothing! This includes thick socks, beanies and water/windproof jackets
– Make sure your shoes fit properly and the material is appropriate e.g. waterproof if the weather is damp
– Dry feet thoroughly after showering
– Aim to exercise daily (even if it is gentle exercise), this will help to improve circulation
– If pain persists, seek assistance from a podiatrist!
Chilblains is usually seasonal, and in most cases will clear up within one to three weeks, particularly when the weather starts to become a little warmer. Although the effects of chilblains are not usually permanent, there can be complications if your skin blisters possibly leading to ulceration and infection.
If you are experiencing chilblains or any other foot or ankle pain associated with the cooler weather, book an appointment with your podiatrist today. It is important to have your circulation to your feet and toes assessed, to ensure you are not at risk of any further complications, particularly if you already have poor circulation or diabetes. You can book an appointment with one of our podiatrists by calling the Bellarine Sports Medicine Centre on (03) 5251 5724, or alternatively, you can book online at https://profeetpodiatry.cliniko.com/bookings?business_id=1920#service