Chilblains (CHILL-blayns)

I was surprised when I started having sore toes. I was young. I had recently moved from an arctic region to a more moderate (though damp) climate and I couldn’t understand that I would have problems with my circulation here if I hadn’t had it in the upper latitudes of the world. But, what I’d done, unknowingly, is assumed that with the more temperate weather,  I wouldn’t need the same precautions against cold for my feet. I wasn’t used to the buildings being so cold and I’d work all day with lots of layers of clothing but nearly unmoving at a desk for hours on end so, by the end of the day they were wretchedly cold. I’d come from work from one cold building to a frigid one (until the radiators kicked in) and I was desperate to get my numb toes warm. I’d thrust them into a hot bath or sit them on top of a hot water bottle. Because of the lack of circulation in my toes from the cold, when I heated them up suddenly, the blood rushed down and the constricted blood vessels couldn’t take the sudden volume, thus the surrounding tissue reacted by swelling thereby forming chilblains which are painful to walk on and impossible to walk on in constricted shoes.

I went on a quest to cure myself of these plaguing pains trying arnica products and cayenne powder in my socks among other things until I realised that time and TLC were the only cures. So, I wore wool socks at all times, I wiggled my toes and I never, ever heated them up quickly. Even now, if I go to take a bath, the first thing I check is how cold my feet are. If they are terribly cold, I warm them up in my hands, under my husband’s thigh, under my dog’s belly–anything not too extreme. Then, when I get into the bath, once I’m seated, I pop my feet up onto the top end of the bath, out of the water. I dip them in and then out again a few times, until I am assured that they have warmed up slowly enough. I will spare you the gory photos of various forms of chilblains. The main characteristics for me were: mild swelling, red patches, itching and pain when constricted in tighter shoes. Since I have followed the slow warming procedure, and kept the circulation going through movement, I have never had trouble with chilblains again. And, I still work in a damp, cold building, and of course, I’m still young. 

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