The symptoms of chilblains range from itching to a burning sensation that soon becomes red, painful and swollen when in contact with heat. The most commonly affected areas are the extremities, especially the fingers and toes, but occasionally also the nose and ears.
Chilblains are associated with poor circulation, and are most common in those with circulatory problems. They tend to be caused by exposure to damp cold, however the mechanism by which mild cold injury produces these symptoms is not understood.
- Bioflavonoids help maintain capillary and connective tissue strength
- Vitamin C works as an anti-inflammatory and speeds the healing of tissues
- Niacin promotes circulation and creates a warm flush in many people
- Circulatory stimulating herbs such as ginger may also be helpful when taken in tea form
- Calcium phosphate has also been traditionally used to treat and prevent chilblains
- A herbal poultice which may be useful can be made from one part cayenne pepper, one part slippery elm powder and two parts vegetable oil, mixed together and applied morning and night (NOTE: Be careful not to apply this poultice to broken skin)
- Try hard not to scratch the chilblains or expose them to heat.
Life Style Factors
- Ensure your circulation is healthy by taking regular gentle exercise.
- Keep legs and body warm, especially if you have poor circulation.
- Leg warmers and thick woollen socks may be of benefit.
- Eat plenty of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, fibre, filtered water and include warming spices in your diet, such as ginger, mustard, chilli and curry.
- Avoid getting cold and wet – pay particular attention to keeping your hands and feet warm
- Don’t scratch the chilblains
- Don’t place your feet close to extreme heat (e.g electric heaters)
- Avoid sleeping with your electric blanket on high temperature settings