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February 14, 2018

The prolonged cold spell got me thinking about chilblains.When I was a child we all seemed to get chilblains. I’m sure it was due to being out on the farm in wellingtons during the cold damp weather. This belief was reinforced by my review of the subject this week, where I also saw that ‘childhood chilblains' is not rare as I thought, even today. I always felt coming indoors and giving our toes a good toasting to the fire had an influence. I have also noticed, through domiciliary work, that anyone still living with only a fireplace for heating will usually have chilblains  only on the side which is facing the fire.

What are Chilblains?

Chilblains, (also called pernio or perniosis) are localised, tender, inflammatory, red, often itchy lesions, which may become blistered or ulcerated, caused by continued exposure to cold. In more severe cases the skin can break and sores or blisters can develop. They usually heal after a few weeks especially if exposure to cold is avoided.More commonly seen in children, women and persons with low body mass index, with a genetic link.

I don’t see very many cases in my podiatry/chiropody clinic but I usually find it is secondary to circulation problems, often with very cold feet. So it follows that if you are prone to the condition you should try to avoid cold feet, have your circulation assessed and take exercise to help improve the blood flow. Sometimes medication called Nifedipine is necessary to open up the blood vessels.