How to deal with chilblains?

How to deal with chilblains?
Published: Januari 23, 2021

About ten percent of people occasionally suffer from chilblains in winter, when it is cold outside. This not only causes itching, but is also painful. What can you do?

In chilblains, the little muscles in the blood vessels react abnormally to cold. The blood flow becomes obstructed and this damages the blood vessel wall. This causes (subcutaneous) inflammation. There are red-purple swellings on the toes that feel itchy, tingly, burning and painful. You are extra vulnerable to chilblains if you use beta blockers, are significantly under- or overweight, are in the cold a lot and if you sweat excessively on your feet. A hereditary predisposition can play a role as it may run in families.

Tips against chilblains:

  • Eat less salt. Salt has a negative impact on blood pressure and blood flow. For that reason, eat as little salt as possible if you suffer from chilblains.
  • Scratching doesn’t help and damages the skin, which increases the risk of infection.
  • Wear thin thermal socks. Thermal socks ensure that you are less bothered by large temperature differences. The risk of getting chilblains is therefore smaller. It is better to choose thin thermal socks than extra thick socks. These will tighten your shoes, which will only make your toes more painful.
  • Exercise. Especially when you are outside, it is important to keep moving. When you're back inside, massage your toes to stimulate blood flow. Don’t place your aching toes against the heater. They won't gradually heat up then, which will only make your toes feel more annoying.
  • Take a bath. A well-known trick for a better blood circulation is exchange baths. Alternate a warm and cold foot bath. It is best to put the feet in warm water for three minutes and cold water for thirty seconds. Repeat this a few times and finish with warm water.
  • Wear leather shoes. To keep the feet warm, it is wise to wear leather shoes. Synthetic shoes cool your feet down quickly. Also make sure your shoes are not too tight.