Preventing chilblains

If you're susceptible to chilblains, you canreduce your risk of developing themby:

  • limiting your exposure to the cold
  • looking after your feet
  • taking stepsto improve your circulation

If your skin gets cold, it's important to warm it up gradually. Heating the skin too quickly, for example by placing your feet in hot water or near a heater, is one of the main causes of chilblains.

The following advice should help:

  • stop smoking nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict, which can make chilblains worse
  • keep active this helps improve your circulation
  • wear warm clothes and insulate your hands, feet and legs wearing long johns, long boots, tights, leg warmers or long socks will help, and it's a good idea to wear a clean pair of socks if you get cold feet in bed
  • avoid tight shoes and boots these can restrict the circulation to yourtoes and feet
  • moisturise your feet regularly this stops them drying out and the skin cracking
  • eat at least one hot meal during the day this will help warm your whole body, particularly in cold weather
  • warm your shoes on the radiator before you put them on make sure damp shoes are dry before you wear them; if your feet are already cold, make sure your shoes aren't too hot to avoid causing chilblains
  • warm your hands before going outdoors soak them in warm water for several minutes and dry thoroughly, and wear cotton-lined waterproof gloves if necessary;if yourhands are already cold, make surenot to warm them up too quickly to avoid causing chilblains
  • keep your house well heated try to keep one room in the house warm and avoid drafts
  • if you are diabetic, regularly check yourfeet (or ask someone else to do this) people with diabetes may not be able to feel their feet and could have infected chilblains without realising it

The dressing should be changed every other day until the skin heals.

If the skin does become infected, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018