Cold Feet and Chilblains


Cold Feet and Chilblains: Understanding and Prevention

If cold weather leaves you with painful, swollen toes, you might be experiencing chilblains. These uncomfortable skin issues occur when your feet get cold and then warm up too quickly.

Chilblains are red, itchy, and painful swellings that can appear on your toes or fingers. Understanding why they happen and how to prevent them is key to keeping your feet comfortable in cold weather.

Understanding Cold Feet and Chilblains

  • Why Do My Feet Get Cold? When you’re cold, blood vessels in your feet narrow to keep your core warm. Warming up too fast can overwhelm those vessels, causing inflammation and chilblains (red, swollen, itchy toes).

    A foot on a hot water bottle - a common cause of chilblains as the toes are warmed quickly.
    A common cause of chilblains is heating the toes too quickly.
  • What Are Chilblains? Chilblains (erythema pernio) happen when your toes get cold and then warm up too quickly.
  • Other Affected Areas: Ears, nose, cheeks, and hands can also be affected.
  • Underlying Issues: Sometimes cold feet are a sign of medical conditions like Raynaud’s disease.
A picture of a foot showing two toes that are red and inflamed with a chilblain
Redness of the toes is a common sign of chilblains

Prevention is Key

    • Keep Feet Warm: The best way to avoid chilblains is to prevent your feet from getting too cold in the first place.
    • Warm Up Gradually: If your feet do get cold, warm them up slowly; don’t jump in a hot bath!
    • Protect Your Skin: Keep your feet dry and moisturised, especially in cold weather.
    • See a Podiatrist: If you have frequent issues, a podiatrist can assess for any underlying causes.

MLS Laser Therapy for Chilblains

  • MLS Laser Therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation.
  • This therapy may be helpful for managing the painful symptoms of chilblains.
  • Some studies suggest MLS laser therapy can speed up healing and reduce discomfort.
  • We have found the use of the MLS laser and the MiS Laser beneficial in reducing the pain and inflammation as well as improving the circulation.
  • The MLS or MiS laser can be used as a preventative or as a treatment for red and sore chilblains. Three sessions are needed initially every 2-3 days and continued as needed.

Raynaud’s Disease

  • What It Is: Raynaud’s disease causes fingers and toes to turn white, then blue, and feel numb or painful when cold or stressed.
  • Getting Help: If you suspect Raynaud’s, it’s important to see a doctor for diagnosis and management.
Diagram illustrating the phases of Raynaud's phenomenon, showing how blood flow is restricted and then returns.
Diagram illustrating the three of Raynaud’s phenomenon, showing how blood flow is restricted and then returns.

Resources for Finding Warmth

Insulated Footwear

  • Warm socks (consider specialised ski socks or thermal socks) e.g. UNIQLO HeatTec Socks
  • Insulating insoles (like Pedag Viva)
  • Warm, waterproof boots

Heated Products

  • Electric socks and insoles (look for reputable brands)

Trusted Sources

Important Resources

Two feet, one adult and one child, wearing warm socks and slippers, holding mugs. The feet are positioned side-by-side on a white rug, suggesting a moment of relaxation and togetherness.
Keep the feet warm with thick socks


*This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about cold feet, chilblains, or Raynaud’s disease, please consult a podiatrist or doctor.*

*A&A Podiatrists is not responsible for the information on external websites or the products they sell. Please research carefully before purchasing.*

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