Written by Thomas McMahon

As average morning temperatures plunge below zero, the onset of Canberra’s notoriously unhospitable winter chill brings with it an increased risk of Chilblains. The impending frost can have an adverse impact on the normal function of small blood vessels, affecting regions of skin exposed to the chill of winter. As a form of protest against the cold weather, the smaller vessels supplying blood to patches of skin can spasm, thereby interrupting the flow of blood, resulting in Chilblains. Derived from the Latin chil– meaning ‘cold’ and –blain meaning ‘sore’, these small inflammatory, vasospastic lesions are discoloured (red or blueish), tender and itchy, typically affecting the tips of toes, fingers and, less frequently, the nose and ears.

An acute episode of Chilblains will last several hours and is unlikely to be a manifestation of an underlying health condition. However, the chronic occurrence of Chilblains in cold and warm climates should prompt a consult with your GP to investigate further.

Prevention is the best intervention for this winter ailment. Taking the effort to don warm socks and gloves will provide fingers and toes with the necessary protection against the cold. Similarly, hats, scarves and ear warmers can all contribute to limiting the risk of Chilblains. In the event a Chilblain lesion develops, effective treatment involves normalising the blood flow to affected regions with topical remedies such as Deep Heat. Of course, should any Chilblains deteriorate and require wound care, Brindabella Podiatry is willing and able to provide up to date, evidence based care.

Happy Wintering.