CHILBLAINS (Pernio) Yes it’s the season for chilblains. I have never suffered from them myself but my youngest daughter suffered from them between the age of about 12 and 18. Strangely enough it took us quite a while to realise what they were. No-one in our family had ever had them before. Most of the time there was hardly anything to see just a puffiness – a slight discoloration of purpley-red, and a shiny look to the affected toes and of course she complained of itchiness, burning pain and sensitivity.
At first we thought it was some sort of friction affliction or insect bites. By the time we realised they were chilblains she had spent most of that winter in roman sandals because it wasn’t ‘cool’ to wear those bulky black regulation shoes to school. This had exacerbated the complaint, but the next winter understanding and commonsense prevailed and she wore socks and shoes as well as sometimes insulating her toes with plasters to keep them even warmer.
Ok, so what actually causes chilblains and why should a healthy young girl get them? It is not known exactly why some people get them and some don’t, but it appears to be more common for young people and the elderly. Poor circulation can be a predisposing factor certainly, but not in all cases. Young people often get them for a few years then seem to ‘grow out’ of them, whilst the elderly can worsen every subsequent winter. A prime factor that contributes to the development of chilblains as already stated is poor circulation. Other factors can be poor nutrition, anaemia, hormonal changes, some connective tissue disorders like lupus erythema and there can also be an inherited tendency.
Chilblains are more likely to occur on the extremities, such as the fingers, the toes, the nose and the ears. The heels are also relatively commonly affected and then the thighs and lower legs in extreme conditions. What happens when a chilblain or a cluster of chilblains develop is that the affected blood vessels constrict and shut down. This happens after exposure to the cold more so in temperate and humid environments. The cold causes constriction of the affected blood vessels in the skin and if the skin is warmed too quickly it causes a leakage of blood and fluid into the surrounding tissues resulting in swelling of the skin and subsequent chilblains.
Ways to prevent the development of chilblains in the susceptible are pretty obvious really and that is to keep the temperature of the affected parts as stable and warm as possible. Wear warm socks and shoes, gloves scarves hats etc., on susceptible areas. Always warm up gradually, never warm up chilblain susceptible areas too quickly. Don’t expose hands and feet to heat from heaters or hot water bottles, especially if they are chilled. Try to warm up by doing exercise, especially before going out in the cold as this improves the circulation.
There are many different approaches to treating chilblains holistically. Herbs and foods that improve circulation and strengthen the vascular system are recommended. Gingko biloba is an herbal supplement that helps restore circulatory system function and improves blood flow to the extremities. Ginger and rosemary are two herbs that can be included in the diet very easily. Ginger acts as a warming circulatory stimulant and rosemary strengthens blood vessels and increases peripheral blood circulation. Most days I will make a very pleasant hot drink with a few slices of fresh ginger and a sprig of rosemary from the garden. We forget that we have a wonderful natural medicine cabinet in the garden or in the kitchen right at our fingertips.
The more we educate ourselves and get into the habit of using these common substances, the more we break our dependency on prescription drugs and “expert” medical advice, certainly for simple everyday ailments. By using more natural healing agents we also strengthen and support our immune systems, instead of overloading them with synthetic chemicals. Homeopathy is a powerful healing modality that will treat the cause and clear the symptoms.
I always recommend visiting a qualified homeopath to get an individualized treatment. Purchasing homeopathic remedies off the shelf is usually an inadequate method of selection. Sadly people often choose a remedy which is not correct, in this way, and then decide that homeopathy doesn’t work, not realizing that homeopathy is an exact science.
Last but not least I would also recommend my own Pile-it-on Balm which is fantastic for strengthening blood vessels. I developed it to use on varicose veins and haemorrhoids, but of course it has proved excellent for chilblains as well. PILE IT ON for your chilblains…………………….