Skin Care and Chilblains

Chilblains are a localized, painful, redness of the skin – caused by a congestion of the capillaries in the lower layers of the skin. Chilblains are found on the fingers, toes and ears. The onset of chilblains is associated with poor circulation particularly to the peripheries. It can be made worse by a poor diet, cold weather, tight shoes and a sedentary occupation.

What you can do to improve chilblains

The situation may be improved with plenty of exercise and wearing warm clothing.

If you smoke you need to stop as smoking is a major contributor to poor circulation and could lead to more serious circulatory system conditions. If you smoke can assist you to become smoke free.

Chilblains may also indicate a lack of sufficient calcium and silica. Sources of these in the diet are: millet, spinach, figs, almonds, sesame seeds, oats, parsley and all green vegetables. You can also take quality, non-contaminated heart and circulatory system vitamins and minerals to assist in getting enough of the nutrients that you need.

You can also use circulation herbs to assist improve your circulation and the strength of your arteries, veins and capillaries.

The following herbs will be useful for improving the circulation to the extremities:

* 3 parts prickly ash bark (or berries)
* 3 parts hawthorn berries
* 1 part ginger

Combine all the ingredients. Take 1 teaspoon of the herb blend and place into a suitable sized saucepan and pour over the cup of boiling water. Allow this to stand for 10-15 minutes. Strain out the herbs. Drink 1 cup three times per day.

When chilblains are unbroken they can be treated by a thin layer of cayenne ointment (apply this very sparingly). Other treatments for chilblains include:

* rosemary oil
* lavender oil
* peppermint oil
* garlic oil or juice
* tincture of myrrh
* nettle juice

Case Study: Chilblains

Helen, a 25 year old nurse, suffered from very bad chilblains during each winter. Her circulation was also poor during the summer months when she suffered aching feet, as a result of her work, and swelling of her fingers and toes in the heat. She did not smoke and had an occasional glass of wine when dining out. She reported eating ‘more sugary and fried foods than she ought to’.

She first visited in the spring so her initial treatment concentrated on the heat problem which was likely to develop as the summer started and also a general improvement in her overall health.

The first month’s treatment consisted of:

* herbal tonic to be taken three times per day, for the liver and kidneys:
o dandelion root and leaf,
o bearberry,
o wild yam and
o yellow dock.
* magnesium, potassium and calcium phosphates.
* vitamin B complex in addition to a general vitamin and mineral supplement
* changes to her diet to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that she was eating.

She returned after the first five weeks and reported less swelling in her feet and that she had improved her diet but in her words ‘she could still improve it a lot’. She was continued on the same treatment as above for the next two months. On the fourth month Helen reported some swelling but it wasn’t as bad as the previous summers. At this stage a slight change in the treatment was implemented. She continued the liver and kidney tonic herbs and the vitamins and minerals and her diet continued to improve. The following herbs were added:

* prickly ash bark,
* hawthorn berries and
* ginger.

It was also recommended that she commence a regular exercise and relaxation program. Helen went through the winter without any chilblains and the circulation to her fingers and feet was greatly improved.

Chilblains are associated with poor circulation – in particular to the hands and feet. When the overall health is improved and the poor circulation remedied then the chilblains tend to stop occurring. This can be brought about with an improved diet and taking heart and circulation vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.