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Chillblains- why do my toes turn purple?

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Do you have painful toes or fingers in the colder months that do not seem to warm up? WE CAN HELP!

WHO?: Chilblains can affect anyone, however those who are elderly and have difficulty with blood flow are most commonly affected.

WHAT?: Chilblains is the word commonly used for pain and abnormal colouration of skin. Burning, tingling and blister formation are also common symptoms. Blood vessels usually constrict in cool weather to maintain blood and heat to the main organs, however occasionally this causes numbness, pain, colour change and even ulceration to the toes and fingertips.

WHEN?: Common around the winter months

WHERE?: The toes, fingertips or both are primarily affected

WHY?: Small blood vessels react to temperature changes which results in restriction of blood flow to the extremities.

Why ME?

- Smoking

- Poor circulation (Vascular Disease)

- Advanced/Advancing age

- Raynaud's Phenomenon

- Lupus

- Female gender

- Living in a damp climate

- Clothing that is too tight or not covering toes

How We Can Help!

What Can A Podiatrist Do?

Podiatrists specialise in all disorders of the feet. We will conduct a full assessment of your pain, the duration, severity and timing of symptoms to discover how we can best help you and relieve your pain. Our treatments and assessments range from vascular doppler blood flow tests, to visual and physical observations. Additionally, we can screen for any abnormalities which may be exacerbating your chilblains. We also offer paraffin wax baths for increased circulation. Additionally, we conduct sock and shoe assessments and can provide recommendations to ensure that your feet stay warm and safe!

Furthermore, at Foot Body Sole we also stock a variety of socks, shoes and slippers which can all benefit in heating the feet, and when fitted correctly by our highly trained staff, can provide physical protection from the environment.

We will monitor your chilblains regularly to ensure that you do not suffer any additional pain and that your feet remain healthy.

Why Should I See A Podiatrist?

Correct assessment and management of chilblains is crucial in physical and mental health. Advice from a Podiatrist can reduce the occurrence of blisters and wounds from incorrect strategies to warm the feet. Additionally, it is vital that more serious causes of cold toes be ruled out to ensure that your feet will bounce back to good health once the cold weather passes!

TIP 1: Do not warm up your toes too close to the fire/a heater as increased heat may cause swelling and pain in the toes and/or fingers
TIP 2: Do not go from a warm environment (eg: inside the house) to the freezing outside without shoes or socks on. We've had patients running out of the house just to get their newspaper/letters barefoot and this caused chilblains!

TIP 3: Moisturise blistered areas with a chilblain cream. Such as Akhilhiver protective cream.

Keep reading for 3 common mistakes people make with chilblains!

1. Tight socks/hosiery: this can constrict blood flow and cause pressure which can create a wound!

2. Warming feet in very hot water: Do not warm the feet in water for a prolonged time, this makes the skin more likely to break! 3. Only warming your feet: Warm your whole body using layered clothing. Your blood circulates around your body and cools slightly by the time it gets to the feet- keep it as warm as possible!

Interesting Fact: Chilblains is closely related to "Reynaud's Phenomenon" and both share similar features. Often those with chilblains also exhibit signs of Reynaud's, such as symptoms in the warmer months, or during an emotional time which can cause the small blood vessels to reduce in size and slow blood flow.

If you are suffering from Chilblains or have suspiciously chilly toes, come and see us at Foot Body Sole!

Handy Hint 1: Gentle exercise to keep the blood flowing around your body. Keeping your whole body warm will also warm your toes. If your body is warmer then your blood vessels will dilate and allow greater blood flow to the extremities.

Handy Hint 2: Place your feet in woollen socks, Ugg Boots/Slippers or both to gently warm up

Handy Hint 3:. Resist the urge to scratch as this can damage the already delicate skin.

Click below to make an appointment today.

Foot Body Sole:

82 Bridport st, Albert Park, VIC

1800 778 316

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