With winter just a few months round the corner, it is time to recognize that hands, feet, tips of the ears, nose and cheeks (areas of the body most exposed) need to be protected from extreme cold weather.
Exposure to cold and damp weather causes numerous painful skin problems, the most common of which are chilblains, frostbite and immersion foot. People tend to think that the aforementioned are one and the same, but that is not the case. Though these problems pretty much occur more often in the winter season, they are caused by different conditions and circumstances.
Chilblains, also known as perniosis, are the swollen, itchy and red patches on the toes and fingers which are caused due to prolonged exposure to the extreme cold and then hot conditions. In cold weather the blood vessels constrict, especially if there is poor circulation in that area, and when the exposed cold areas are rewarmed, the blood leaks from these vessels, causing swelling, inflammation, itching and then pain. Damp weather is also a contributing factor to suffering from chilblains.
How would you recognize chilblains?
- When you feel a burning sensation on the skin
- Intense itching in the area affected
- Red, blue or white swollen patch
- Dry skin resulting in splits and cracks
- Secondary infection
- In severe cases even ulcers will develop
Treatment of chilblains is simple and most times one tends to self-treat, but a doctor must be consulted before any kind of lotions or over the counter drugs are used.
- Avoid pressure on the affected areas
- Avoid contact with very hot or very cold water
- Keep the body warm, especially areas that are exposed to the cold
- Dry skin can be lubricated with lanolin; antiseptic lotions to prevent infections and calamine lotion to ease the itching
- If the skin is broken, cleaning and protecting the wound is essential
Dr. Ryan L. D’Amico, our board certified podiatrist, is knowledgeable and experienced in both, major pedal problems like reconstructive ankle and foot surgery and less complicated problems like corns, calluses and chilblains. We at Syracuse Podiatry are a cohesive, committed team, who are pledged to serve and improve your quality of life. Our office is located in Fayetteville, NY, in the Syracuse area. Call us at (315 446 3668) to schedule an appointment if your chilblains are bothering you.