open the menu

Suffering from Chilblains? 3 Ways to Treat And Prevent It

しもやけ 治し方 These chilblains sure are itchy! What’s the best way to get rid of them?

These thoughts have probably crossed your mind if you’ve ever had to suffer through chilblains before.

Today, we’ll take a look at some ways to treat chilblain symptoms, as well some methods to help prevent chilblains from occurring in the first place.

1.Causes of chilblains

Chilblains are caused by poor blood circulation. When blood fails to reach its destination, the affected part suffers not just nutritional deficiency, but also inflammation in the form of chilblains. With that said, there are a host of other contributory factors aside from poor blood circulation such as:

* Less muscle mass

* An environment of more than 10°C

* Wet extremities

Improving blood circulation not only treats inflammation caused by chilblains, but also helps the body become more resistant to it.

2.Treating chilblains

If you’re already experiencing chilblain symptoms and just treatment in as little time as possible, try the following:

2-1. Medicine and topical creams

Try applying topical creams known to work on chilblains on the affected area. These are readily available in drugstores. Some topical insect bite creams specifically state that they are also effective for chilblains. This is more the exception rather than the rule, so be sure to check your family’s go-to insect bite cream’s packaging and label to verify if it can indeed be used for chilblains.

2-2. Massage the affected area

Massages improve blood flow, helping to reduce swelling in the affected area. The best time to do this would during or right after a bath, when blood circulation is already relatively better. Note that directly massaging areas affected by boils or redness due to chilblains may worsen the inflammation. Gently massaging circulatory chokepoints close to the affected area such as wrists or ankles is more effective. In particular, the ankles are home to a few major blood vessels that will improve blood circulation not just for the local area, but the whole body as well.

2-3. Try contrast bath therapy

足湯

While a normal warm footbath does a lot to improve blood circulation, contrast bath therapy, where the affected extremity is immersed alternatingly in warm and cold water, can do wonders for circulatory disorders.

This can also help in building basic resistance to chilblains

(How to do contrast bath therapy)
Things to prepare:
Two buckets (or tubs) large enough for the affected foot, a towel for drying, warm water of approximately 40°C (104°F) (enough to dip the foot up to the ankles), tap water (about same quantity as hot water), more warm water for the other foot (the first batch of warm water will be used as a substitute for tap water once it cools down)

Steps:
1. Fill one bucket (or tub) with warm water and the other with tap water
2. Sit on a chair and soak the affected foot in warm water (for around 2 to 5 minutes)
3. Next, soak the foot in tap water (for another 2 to 5 minutes)
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 around 5 times, then finish by cooling the affected part with tap water.

* You may also finish with hot water if you are new and have yet to adjusted to contrast bath therapy, or prior to sleeping.

3.Seek medical attention for severe/chronic frostbite/chilblains

Please seek the advice of a medical professional if you require immediate treatment for chilblains, or if the inflammation is preventing you from sleeping. Specifically, see a dermatologist for treatment. You may be prescribed topical or oral drugs at the hospital or clinic as a form of initial treatment. Furthermore, chronic chilblains (once a year or more) may be indicative of another underlying condition. Please see a medical professional for a checkup and advice.

4.Preventing chilblains

Here are some prevention tips you may find useful if you’re the type who easily gets chilblains as soon as the temperature drops:

4-1. Avoid the cold

おやすみ手袋 Cold temperatures can cause poor blood circulation, so whenever possible avoid the cold like the plague. Wear ear muffs or a face mask if your ears or cheeks are susceptible to chilblains. Avoid scant clothing that may cause poor blood circulation.

4-2. Avoid clothing items that restrict blood flow

Avoid clothing that restricts blood flow and freedom of movement, such as stockings, tight shoes, high heels, corrective underwear, tight pants, and the like. Restricting the body’s freedom of movement also restricts muscle movement and further impedes blood flow towards the body’s extremities. If you must wear restrictive clothing, make it a point to massage and move your body as often as possible.

4-3. Stop relying on indoor heating

Chilblains occur more frequently in areas of extreme temperature changes. For example, one area has a temperature of over 10℃, but your area’s temperature is different to it. Your chances of suffering from chilblains are higher the higher the temperatures are indoors and out. Avoid using indoor heating if it’s cold outside. Although our body has its own thermoregulatory functions, this thermoregulatory function becomes less responsive to changes the more you rely on artificial indoor heating. In order to keep this thermoregulatory function in tiptop shape, take steps such as avoid using electric blankets when sleeping and instead a hot water bottle to warm up during a cold night.

4-4. Hit the gym

Poor blood circulation can be improved by increasing muscle mass. Muscles also serve as blood circulation pumps that pump blood throughout the body. Even people with less muscle mass or sedentary lifestyles develop resistance to cold when they make a conscious effort to exercise. Calf exercises are particularly effective at promoting blood circulation. The calves play such an important role in blood circulation that they are sometimes referred to as a “second heart”.

(Recommended exercises)

* Squats

Squats are great for improving lower body strength. Considering the fact that 70% of our muscles are located in the lower half of the body, squats also serve as an efficient means of increasing overall muscle mass.

(1) Open your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and stand with your back straight. Cross your arms behind your head. スクワット1 (2) Slowly lower your hips while keeping your back straight. Pause when your buttocks are parallel to the floor. スクワット2 (3) Slowly return to position (1) as you exhale. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

* Heel raises

Heel raises are an exercise that train the calves, the “second heart” of the body. This exercise contracts the calf muscles, in the process promoting and improving blood circulation.

(1) Open your legs slightly a less than shoulder width. かかと上げ1 (2) Slowly lift your heels. * Place your hands on a wall or other stable surface to make it easier to balance.

かかと上げ3

(3) Pause for 3 to 5 seconds while keeping your heels at the highest position.

かかと上げ2

5.Summary

We just went over the different ways of treating chilblains.

It must be very tough living with chilblains every year, especially in winter.

However, chilblains are treatable by limiting exposure to cold and improving blood circulation.

Quality of life improvements are not out of the question, as long as a conscious effort is made to make lifestyle changes no matter.

This article was last updated on May 2nd, 2016
No two individuals are alike. Please note that your results and experiences may vary from what is described in this article.