Chilblains Can Ruin Your Winter


Chilblains are an abnormal skin reaction to long-term exposure to extreme cold. The small blood vessels in your skin become inflamed, which causes painful, itchy red patches along with swelling and blistering in your hands and feet.

Who Is Affected by Chilblains?

Here are some common factors that affect peoples’ risk of chilblains:

  • Family history: If your parents or siblings commonly get chilblains, then you are likely to get them too.

  • Poor circulation: If you’re a patient with diabetes or a vascular disorder, you are particularly at risk for chilblains, and they can affect you even more severely.

  • Hormonal changes: Since women have chilblains more frequently than men, scientists suspect a link to hormonal shifts.

  • Lacking in nutrition: A diet lacking in protein and colorful fruits and vegetables can make you more prone to chilblains.

  • Other illnesses like connective tissue and bone marrow disorders.

Symptoms of Chilblains

Small itchy, red swellings appearing on the toes are typical of chilblains. They often become increasingly painful, then swell and dry out leaving cracks in the skin and opening up the risk of infection. They can also regularly occur on parts of the feet exposed to pressure, such as bunions. Chilblains also often occur on the fingers, face, and earlobes.

Prevention and Treatment

You can prevent chilblains by keeping your feet and lower legs warm. Always dress warmly and do not expose your skin to the elements, especially if you have poor circulation or limited mobility. The condition will usually get better on its own, but if pain is severe or if your symptoms don’t improve in a week or two, see your podiatrist. If you experience symptoms in the warm season, check with your doctor to rule out other conditions.

If you are suffering from chilblains or any other foot or ankle issues, give us a call here at Bay Podiatry Associates. Our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Argirios Mantzoukas, has years of experience treating a wide array of podiatric issues. To schedule an appointment at our Brooklyn, NY office, give us a call today at (718) 266-1986.