Chilblains are tender and/or itchy bumps on sites of the foot following exposure to damp, cold, non-freezing conditions causing a localised form of vasculitis.

Types of chilblains:

Chronic: Those that have lasted 5 months or more

Acute: Those that disappear within a couple of weeks if the extremity is kept warm


  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Regular or sudden exposure to cold, damp, or draughty conditions
  • Underlying bone marrow disorders e.g., chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Diabetes
  • Primary or secondary Raynaud phenomenon
  • Family history

Symptoms & Identification

  • Itch, red, or burning pain
  • Localised swelling
  • Blanchable red/purple discolouration on tips of the toes
  • In extreme cases the chilblain can breakdown into an ulcer
  • Keynote: Late winter and early spring, when it is wet and temperatures are above freezing, are the peak seasons for chilblains.

Care & Treatment

The best form of treatment is prevention. Our podiatrist can test your foot circulation, provide devices to reduce pressure on painful lesions, which may help prevent your chilblains from breaking down into ulceration. We can also advise you on the best creams and products to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Word of warning: The association between COVID-19 and chilblains is still being defined. However, the development of chilblain-like lesions in the absence of exposure to damp cold or secondary causes, should be suspected as being related to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Suspect covid: Rash on toes

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