Chilblains or winters feet - Relieve the Pain

Chilblains, also known as pernio, perniosis or winters feet occur from exposure to cold temperatures followed by rapid re-warming. Small blood vessels in the skin narrow in cold temperatures and dilate in warm temperatures. When blood vessels dilate to quickly because of a rapid change in temperature, it can cause fluid to leak from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues, which will result in the following symptoms:

  • painful inflammation,
  • swelling,
  • itching,
  • red patches,
  • ulcers or blisters on the affected areas.
  • These are ulcers that affect the extremities and occur when a predisposed individual is exposed to cold and humidity. Exposure to the cold damages the capillary beds in the skin which can cause redness, itching, blisters and inflammation.

    Chilblains can also be caused by poor circulation. Severe chilblains can cause permanent damage to the blood vessels, nerves and skin, however it can be treated and prevented.

    Prevention and treatment of chilblains:

    1. If you are a smoker, STOP! Smoking inhibits circulation.
    2. If you are very cold do not heat yourself up by standing by a blazing fire or by getting into a very hot bath.
    3. Diet: when cooking try to use herbs and spices that will increase circulation, e.g. Chilli, ginger, garlic, thyme, turmeric, bayberry, ginkgo biloba, prickly ash, nettle and cinnamon. Legumes such as kidney and lima beans and the root vegetables are very warming and good for circulation.
    4. Avoid alcohol in cold weather; although you may feel that the alcohol warms you up, the only thing alcohol really does is dilate the blood vessels very quickly.
    5. Vitamins that help with circulation: Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 in the form of nicotinic acid (use only in small quantities as large doses may cause flushing.) Magnesium phosphate tissue salt, this eases the spasm of small blood vessels, Vitamin D, beta carotene and selenium and Vitamin E.
    6. Oily fish, specifically fresh tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and herrings are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which prevent the blood from becoming so thick that it has difficulty travelling through the blood vessels.
    7. Avoid sugar
    9. Camphor Cream: Reduces swelling and reactivates the circulation
    10. Keep warm
    11. Avoid tight fitting socks or shoes as this can restrict circulation
    12. You can also place cotton wool between your toes toe increase circulation.

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