Chilblains are a very common problem in the colder climates, most often affecting the feet but occasionally affecting the hands and also the nose and ears from time to time. The classic symptom is a red and itchy patch that occurs on the toes. If it becomes more chronic then a deeper blue type lesion comes about as waste product accumulate in the skin. They have a tendency to affect females much more than males and they happen at just about any age.
They aren't in reality due to the cold. They are the result of a too rapid warming up of the foot after it has become cold. When we are subjected to cold, the arteries shrink to help the body preserve heat. When are warm, the capillaries open up to help dissipate heat. What happens in a chilblain is that after the arteries have contracted as a result of the cold, they continue to be closed down on warming. What this means is that the metabolic demand of the skin is not achieved by the reduced blood supply, so waste material accumulate in the skin leading to an inflammatory reaction. Eventually the capillaries do open up and when they do, it does tend to happen rapidly bringing about the red inflammatory reaction. Chilblains apparently heal quickly, however, this inflammatory process occurs on an almost daily basis in the wintry temperatures resulting in a long-term condition.
The most effective treatment for chilblains is to not get them to begin with. Keep the toes warm in order that they do not become cold and the arteries do not need to contract. If the feet do get cold, then it is essential that they be allowed to warm up little by little so the arteries have time to open up and keep pace with the demands for circulation from the tissues. If a chilblain does occur there are a number of products which can be applied to help aid the blood flow and remove the waste products. Prevention is the next step so that it does not occur again the next time the feet becomes cold and it becomes a long-term condition. If you have an issue with chilblains, then seek the advice of an qualified foot doctor for tips and treatment.