Chilblains and Poor Circulation Connection

Chilblains

Chilblains is a condition that many people have never heard of, even though it is actually quite common. Often confused with trench foot and frostbite, the condition is caused by the exposure of skin to humidity and cold, according to Wikipedia. Essentially, capillaries in the skin can become damaged as a result of the exposure and the related injury to tissue. Most of the time, chilblains simply occurs due to element exposure but it can also be indicative of underlying health conditions as well. Symptoms include redness, swelling blistering and itching of the skin.

Those with bad circulation are at an increased risk of developing the condition, according to Daily Mail Online. Because the extremities are the most susceptible to developing chilblains, those who have bad circulation to begin with where circulatory function is already depressed in these areas may be much more likely to end up with the condition when exposure to cold occurs. There are many poor circulation causes to consider. Many times, it is a result of a sedentary lifestyle that is lacking in healthy amounts of physical activity. And, an occupation that requires long periods of sitting can also contribute to the development of poor circulation as well. But, there are also health conditions that can lead to bad circulation and therefore predispose sufferers to cases of chilblains.

One common condition that can lead to poor circulation in fingers and hands is Raynaud’s disease, characterized by the narrowing of blood vessels in the hands. This disease affects hand circulation because when the vessels narrow, it is more difficult for blood to pass through which can lead to pain and discomfort, numbness as well as color changes, with the fingers and hands often turning blue. While normally not serious, this decrease in circulatory function in the hands can make sufferers more likely to develop chilblains, where depressed hand circulation combined with exposure to cold air, a prerequisite for developing the symptoms of Raynaud’s, can lead to the condition.

At the other end of the body, the feet, commonly affected by poor blood circulation as a result of health conditions and lifestyle factors alike, can also lead to the increased susceptibility to chilblains. This is because poor circulation in feet can reduce the amount of circulating blood throughout, making developing the condition from exposure to cold more likely. While feet are most often covered when cold exposure is possible, extra precautions are needed for periods of cold exposure in people who suffer from poor foot circulation.

Preventing cold hands and feet is the best way to stave off chilblains, and people with depressed circulatory function need to be even more cognizant of covering up these areas when cold exposure is imminent. What may be suitable for a person in terms of protection from cold hands and feet may not be adequate for persons suffering from poor circulation or health conditions that result in reduced blood flow. Therefore, extra socks, durable and protective shoes as well as gloves that are appropriate to combat the onset of chilblains are required in order to protect the hands and feet.

There are other preventative measures that people who frequently encounter the condition can take in order to prevent recurrences. In an effort to increase blood flow, Wikipedia points out that cotton wool can be placed in between the toes. Additionally, aside from preventative measures like covering up areas that may be exposed to cold, avoiding alcohol prior to exposure is also a good idea. And, lifestyle changes that are geared towards circulation improvement can also help to prevent recurrence of chilblains. Stopping smoking, losing weight and increasing exercise that can help increase circulatory function can all be useful to preventing the chilblains. Dietary changes can be useful as well, with adding in healthy foods known for their circulatory benefits like antioxidant rich blueberries, Omega-3 rich fish and vitamin packed leafy green veggies all being beneficial. And, there are also herbs that can be useful as well that can be found in supplements or in natural food stores. Gingko biloba, horse chestnut and ginger are well known for many health benefits but are also thought to help improve circulation, along with cayenne pepper. However, limiting cold exposure and reducing the occurrences of dramatic temperature changes are the best way to prevent chilblains in persons with reduced circulatory function.

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