These are an uncomfortable reaction to cold weather, especially for people who have some form of blood circulation problem. They appear not only on various parts of the feet, but also on the hands and face.

When the sufferer is exposed to the cold, chilblains appear as swellings on the surface of the skin which are very itchy. They are red in colour and are painful, which increases over time. The area often swells at first, then dries out leaving the skin very prone to cracking, which in turn can then become infected or ulcerated. Following exposure to the cold, if the sufferer then warms up rapidly (like standing near a fire), the chilblains can become extremely painful.

The best treatment is to avoid getting chilblains in the first place. Improving your circulation is often a great start, so try to increase your general exercise and improve your fitness. When the weather turns cold, then keep warm, especially if you go outside. Wear appropriate clothing to keep your whole body warm, not just your feet. Long trousers, stockings or leg warmers should always be worn in cold conditions.

If chilblains appear you should not scratch them. Apply an anti-itching lotion such as witch hazel or calamine to relieve the symptoms. Friar's Balsam or better still Frier's balsam mixed with a weak solution of iodine often works well. There are commercially available treatments that might help. If you suffer the cold at night, try rubbing in some lanolin to help keep in the heat. However, if the chilblain has cracked or ulcerated, it should be covered with a sterile dressing, and you are advised to see your chiropodist or your own GP for further treatment. Your chiropodist will also be able to suggest the best methods to avoid them occurring, what lotions should work best for your own situation and what is the best treatment for any swellings you may have.