Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry - Podiatry Insights

What are Chilblains?

Chilblains (also called pernio) are small itchy, red (purple sometimes) swellings on the skin. If not addressed and treated, becomes very painful and can sometimes ulcerate, exposing the foot to the risk of infection. They occur on extremities like the toes, fingers, the face (especially the nose), and the lobes of the ears, even on exposed skin of the legs and arms.

Chilblain Images

How do you get chilblains?

Chilblains develop when the body is exposed to colder conditions. The tiny blood vessels under the skin, in the peripheral areas, constrict and shut the blood flow to these areas and redirect the blood to the main vital organs.

However, when a person returns to a warmer environment from the cold, the small blood vessels should dilate (open up) allowing the blood to flow back into the extremities again.

People who are prone to chilblains, have blood vessels that fail to return the blood back to the peripheral capillaries quickly enough after being exposed to the cold. The consequence of this time delay means the tissues are deprived of blood and the tissues simply die, chilblains present as red swollen areas of skin, that are painful, and in some cases, itch.

So, a cold foot in a cold environment is ok but once a cold foot comes into a warm environment, that’s when the problem starts as the tissues will start to metabolise without a blood supply.

Being in and out of a cold environment into a warm one is primarily the problem, this creates a challenge for the vascular system to react quickly and effectively enough to prevent chilblains from developing

Who can get chilblains?

Where can you get chilblains on the body?

Chilblains can be present on any area of the skin, but they tend to be more common on the peripheries of the body eg. feet, toes, hands, fingers, ears, and nose, but can also be on exposed areas of the skin on the legs and arms.

How do I know I have chilblains?

They usually appear, when the weather changes to cooler temperatures in the autumn to spring, usually all the winter months.

The affected areas of the skin can often feel like it is burning or itching, which usually intensifies upon entering a warm room, sitting next to a fire, in a warm bath, or in bed. There is usually swelling and redness, and in some cases, the skin can break down and ulcerate.

They can last for a few weeks or for some people they can last for months, depending on their health or occupation.

What’s the best treatment for chilblains?

Prevention of chilblains is really the best treatment, check out the advice below.

The best socks for preventing chilblains.

Karen our Practice manager suffers from really awful chilblains, as you can see from the photo, so we use her to try all the socks that she finds helpful in keeping the feet warm and the cushioning effect on the tender skin.

She loves the Injinji mid-weight trail socks for chilblains on the toes and the Darn tough boot socks for chilblains under the feet. Both socks are made with merino wool, which is thermo-regulating, keeping the feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The cushioning under the feet in the Darn tough boot socks is brilliant at insulating the soles of the feet and cushioning the chilblain-affected skin. Both socks work well for chilblains on the feet, it just depends on where the chilblains are located on the foot and ankle.

Injinj Socks
Darn Tough Socks

Wearing silk socks as a liner sock is beneficial as they don’t take up too much room in the shoes but insulate the foot well, link below.

Search (patra.com)

The best creams for chilblains

There are plenty of creams on the market claiming they prevent chilblains and treat chilblains but none have any evidence to back that claim up!

So, we decided to try them all out ……on Karen of course!

Warming creams (rubefacients) for chilblains

These creams are designed to warm cold areas of the skin up when you have been outside and have got cold already or to apply before you get out to prevent the feet from getting cold.

The only one Karen found to be slightly effective was “Warm your sole” oil, she admitted it did warm up her feet and her skin felt lovely, the others were not very effective in her opinion.

Warm your Sole from Body Essentials (feetlife.co.uk)

The creams that heat up the skin too much, like muscle rubs produce too much heat, too quickly to help chilblains, hence it has to be a gentle warming cream

Chilblain treatment creams.

These creams are designed for when you have a chilblain already and you need a product to calm them down.

The texture of a solid balm was too uncomfortable to apply to tender skin so that pretty much ruled those products out.

The Pernioderm range was Karen's favourite for chilblain relief, and the Intense and Original were her preferred ones. "She said, they stopped her waking up in the night with the pain of the chilblains”.

Pernioderm Skincare for Chilblains and Windburn Relief

Akilhiver Winter was her favourite emollient cream to apply regularly, although it technically didn't seem to help the chilblains much, it felt great on the skin, and I think this product is perfect for improving the quality of the skin and preparing the skin for winter.

Akileine Winter Foot Cream (simplyfeet.co.uk)

Broken Chilblains

If the skin has started to break down and ulcerate then please book an appointment with a Podiatrist and they will be able to help to treat and heal them for you

Best insoles for chilblains

This one is really simple as plastazote is the go-to material as a shoe liner, it comes in quite a few thicknesses but the thicker ones will work more effectively at keeping the feet warmer. It's the same material that swim floats are made of and instantly feels warm to the touch. Plastazote is available in sheets, so you can cut out your own insoles to fit all shoes and work boots. Link below;

Zotefoam Plastazote superior closed cell foam

Medication for Chilblains

There is a prescription medication (Nifedipine) for people who chronically struggle every year with chilblains and that medication is available from your GP.

If you need more advice or treatment regarding chilblains, please contact us at the clinic on 01947 8204319.

Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry, The Foothub, Whitby. Tel: 01947 820319 or our website www.footcheck.co.uk


The Foothub Whitby
3, Byland Road
Whitby
YO21 1JH

More Insights

What are Chilblains?

Chilblains (also called pernio) are small itchy, red (purple sometimes) swellings on the skin. If not addressed and treated, becomes very painful and can sometimes ulcerate, exposing the foot to the risk of infection.


Why have I got bumps on my heels?

You may have noticed little skin-coloured bumps around your heels, that are more noticeable when standing, they can still be visible when sitting or laying down?


Footpain In Pregnancy

Women go through many complaints throughout their pregnancy, and foot pain can be one of them, unfortunately, it can also get overlooked..


Diabetes And Its Effect On The Lower Limb

Many people may not recognise the complications that may occur if diabetes is not correctly controlled and monitored, with foot problems being amongst the most serious...


Foot Self-Care for Diabetics

As a diabetic, there are many tips and hints to help manage and prevent foot complications occurring due to decreased nerve and or vascular function....


What is Involved in a Diabetic Foot Assessment at the Foothub Whitby?

As a diabetic, it is important that you look after your feet and part of managing your feet properly is to have your feet assessed on a regular basis by a qualified podiatrist...


Podiatrist in a Pandemic

Hello, I am Lindsey a 56-year-old podiatrist and this has been my life in the last couple of years during the pandemic...


Heel pain in children

Over the past few years, the most common problem we see in clinic, involving children, would most definitely be heel pain. This could be present when playing sport, or after participating in other forms of strenuous activity...


Achilles Tendinitis / Tendinosis/ Tendinopathy, which one do I have?

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel, it is considered to be strongest tendon in the body and its movement helps you step up on your toes, run and jump...


Covid Toes

`COVID- toes` is a symptom of contracting Covid-19, it can present in any age group, across all continents and in a full range of skin types. Although it tends to be more common in children and young adults...


Do You Have One leg longer Than The Other?

Uneven leg length is quite common, and often a few millimeters is not going to cause major problem, and probably will go unnoticed. However, for some even a small limb length difference can cause problems in the hips, back and neck...


School Shoes Should be Symmetrical But When Was The Last Time You Checked?

We all know children grow a lot over the school holidays and more often than not you need to buy new uniforms and new school shoes in August before they start in September...


Foot Problems Are Common in Netball and Basketball

In netball and basketball there is a tremendous amount of pressure that is put on the foot, ankle, knees and hips. This can occur at the highest level or even when playing socially...


Acute and Chronic pain in the feet... What's the difference?

Pain is pain… right? Sadly not, pain is a complicated subject but simply put, it can be separated into two categories; Acute and Chronic pain. There is one noticeable difference between the two and that is the amount of time that the pain has been around?


What is shockwave therapy and will it work for me?

Shockwave Therapy has become one of the most effective ways to treat chronic lower limb pain, t was originally developed to treat Kidney Stones (Lithotripsy), as an alternative treatment to surgery...


'Oh No', Heel Pain

This may sound like an odd title, but this is how I refer to the most common foot condition we see in clinic, which is Heel Pain. Did you realise there are over 40 causes of heel pain, the most common one that is known about is Plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the soft tissues on the bottom of the foot...


What is Practice Accreditation and why did we want to achieve it?

The Podiatry profession in the UK is subject to careful monitoring and regulation. These systems are in place to protect the public from sub-standard levels of care, and to ensure that practitioners always know to which standards they should be working to.


How to Reduce Your Injuries by Wearing the Right Trainers

There can be many reasons for this, but a common one we see at Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry is a lack of understanding on what makes one shoe better than another and not knowing when a shoe has passed its used by date and should be replaced.


Pressure plate gait analysis and 3D printed orthotics

Pressure gait analysis gives a detailed insight into the forces impacting on the foot when walking or running. This information allows us to identify areas of the foot that maybe under a higher pressure load which over time can cause pain, injury, fractures and pressure ulcers of the skin.


Shin Splints

At the Foot Hub Whitby, we treat a lot of patients with shin soreness, and it doesn’t matter if they’re a seasoned professional sports person or a weekend warrior.


Is a heel spur the cause of your foot pain?

Perhaps you have been told by a friend, a concerned family member, or a health professional that you have a heel spur but they can only be guessing!


Podosmart Wi-Fi Digitsoles

The insoles are a clever innovative piece of equipment that can quantify the movement of the body with different mobility disorders such as neurological, orthopaedic, age related or sporting injuries...


Marco the M6 MLS Robotic Laser

I have been using a laser in practice for 25 years now and have long realised the great outcomes that can be achieved by them, so after extensively researching the Class 4 MLS laser, which is quite unique to other class 4 lasers in that it doesn’t emit heat, I realised this was the laser I wanted to upgrade to...


Our top tips for preparing to run a marathon

Preparing for a marathon or a half marathon takes dedication and a lot of time, applying these simple tips can make the experience a more positive one...


Ingrowing toenails and how to get rid of them permanently

Many people think they have ingrowing toenails when in fact what they have are involuted (curved) or thickened nails...


Not just a dog - a friend, a confidant, a counsellor and a personal trainer!

Dogs have always been a large part of my life, I have never known a time without a dog from being a small child through to an adult, after having my own children and working full time...


How do we sterilise the instruments we use in clinic

Infection control is something Podiatrists alongside all the medical profession take very seriously. Reducing the transmission of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungal infections...


How 'muscle memory' helped my recovery from shoulder surgery

Is muscle memory a thing? Yes, it is! Not that we have mini brains in our muscles as the brain is definitely located in the head! But there is no doubt that our muscles remember movement...


What Is Swift and Why Do We Use It to Treat Verrucae?

Verrucae are caused by infection in the skin from the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). They are often harmless and can disappear on their own, but sometimes...


What you wouldn’t expect to see at the end of a Marathon

(from Podiatrists who were at the finish line)


Fascial manipulation of the lower limb. (Stecco Method®)

Fascial is a band or sheet of three-dimensional connective tissue, primarily made of collagen it surrounds every tissue, muscle, tendon, nerves, blood vessels and organs of the body...


5 top tips to prepare your feet for winter

Winter time can be quite harsh on the feet, they go from a warm centrally heated houses to artic conditions outside, which takes...


Plantar Fasciitis

This is the most common heel pain complaint we see in clinic. It is an inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia caused...


Verrucae and Warts

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause of warts and verrucae, they can appear anywhere on the skin but are mostly seen...


Melanomas on the feet and legs

Most people wouldn’t really think of a melanoma on the feet and legs, but they do present there...


Core stability and Podiatry

Core Stability is a medical description establishing the ability of a person to control the movement...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to the Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry monthly email newsletter.