As it begins to turn dark cold and damp I’ve started to notice chilblains appearing on some patients feet.
Most patients are unaware what these are and how to look after them.
Often patients come in to see me with unusual sore areas on the ends of their toes, with no idea how they got there.
The toes can often be bright red or purple in colour and are usually at the end of the longest toes. They are sometimes itchy, the areas are very sore and can sometimes look like scabs – especially if they have been scratched by the patient!
Chilblains are more common than you think and are often a result of warming up the toes rapidly after they have been cold for a while. When you are cold, the circulation turns off the blood supply to the extremities, putting the skin into a sleep mode, to preserve heat in your core – this is to protect your essential organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys – it’s important that these function!
When you warm the toes up rapidly the skin wakes up before the circulation has had a chance to re establish itself again. When the skin wakes up it starts to produce normal waste products, but without the circulation to wash these products away, the skin can become damaged. The red and purple marks of the chilblain affected toes are the result of this damage.
A medical condition called Raynaud’s Syndrome can also cause chilblains. Raynaud’s Syndrome is a condition where the circulation of the toes and fingers can be turned off for no apparent reason and can lead to having cold toes and fingers in even the warmest of weathers!
It’s essential to try to keep your extremities warn when it’s cold and NEVER rapidly warm them up in a hot bath, shower or a radiator! Try to wear thermal socks and gloves and wear plenty of warm clothing to help maintain a stable core body temperature.
Do let me know below if you suffer from cold feet and I will be happy to help.