Geelong Podiatrist looks at ‘What causes Chilblains?’

Geelong Podiatrist, Danny Hegarty, delves into ‘What causes chilblains? And how can I prevent them?

What are chilblains? 

Chilblains are small tender skin sores that mostly affect the toes and fingers. They usually present as a red-ish blue colour and are tender to touch. 


They are caused by constrictions of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) and will usually be a direct result of exposure to the cold. 

There are certain medical issues (like Raynaud’s Disease) that may predispose people to chilblains and this should be taken into account when developing a plan to prevent occurence. 

What makes it worse?

Repeated exposure to cold and damp weather conditions will be the main aggravating factor although there are other risk factors to take into account such as;

  • Smoking 
  • Excessive caffeine intake (which constricts capillaries in the same way as nicotine would)
  • Low BMI 
  • Raynaud’s Disease 
  • Family history 

What is the best way to manage chilblains? 

Management strategies largely center around minimising the above mentioned risk factors. So careful planning to pack appropriate clothing if spending a lot of time outdoors in the cold is wise. 

Things like beanies, gloves, warm socks and waterproof footwear should be considered if you are prone to developing chilblains or have a family history of developing them. 

Other treatments such as wax foot baths can assist with short term relief and promote dilation of constricted blood vessels.

If you are dealing with a current chilblain there are some creams that can help alleviate symptoms, especially low dose steroid creams which can assist with the itchiness. 


In the clinic we find that prevention is far better than the cure. If you have a history of chilblains then using a preventative chilblain cream through the winter can be an effective way to mitigate the risk of developing one. 

We have great success with an off the shelf topical cream which can be purchased directly through the clinic. 

For a more thorough assessment into your foot health this winter please get in touch and book an appointment online today


Thanks for reading,


Danny Hegarty