Healthy Skin Over Winter

Chilblains are burning red areas that occur on the end of fingers, toes and other areas of the skin that have been exposed to the cold.  They generally occur a few hours after the exposure so you may not always recognise what is causing the itching and burning that usually always follows the damage from the cold. 

When the extremities get cold, the blood vessels in these areas become smaller, and when the area warms up again, some of the blood is thought to ‘leak out’ into the surrounding areas causing pain, swelling, and itching. 

Helping to prevent chilblains:

Some people are more likely to develop chilblains, and they should prepare for the possibility of weather changes causing circulation problems. 

  • Be prepared with gloves, scarves, and hats to keep them warm.
  • Once exposed skin has chilled it is best to warm the area gradually, with warm water rather than hot, and gently rubbing or massage with simple moisturiser and emollients to prevent sudden temperature change. 
  • Cover the ear lobes if out in the chilly weather, and after exposure gently rub them with a moisturiser as well. 

Treating chilblains:

Once a chilblain has developed, the priority is to prevent the skin from breaking and infection occurring as well. 

It is important to prevent further exposure to the cold, so keep on covering the affected areas whenever the temperature drops rapidly, or when going outdoors in chilly weather. 

We can advise you as to how to treat chilblains, help to heal the damage and how to prevent them from occurring in the future.  If you have suffered from chilblains in the past, come and see us to prevent repeated occurrences of this painful condition.

Keeping your eczema under control this winter. 

Symptoms of eczema are a skin rash that might be inflamed, swollen, itchy, red, flaky or dry. When skin is dry and cracked it is more susceptible to bacterial infections, so the skin may also appear weepy, oozing or bleeding. 

There are several options for effectively managing this condition. Corticosteroids are commonly used to manage mild to moderate eczema, but it is important that you ask us about using corticosteroids effectively. You should always try to use the lowest effective strength and use as little as possible. Corticosteroids must be applied sparingly to the affected areas and only when needed as they thin the skin. 

If you get eczema on your face, it is important that only mild corticosteroids are used, as the skin in this area is thinner and more prone to absorption and local side effects. Stronger corticosteroids may be used on other parts of the body and during severe flare-ups. 

Eczema is influenced by lifestyle factors so ask us about managing your eczema. Some people develop flare-ups when there are sudden changes in the weather, so where possible try to anticipate changes in weather (for example, during travel) and prepare yourself with effective treatments. 

Stress can also trigger flare-ups so try to avoid or manage stress as best you can. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation, changing the reaction if the situation is unavoidable, practising better health care and making time for rest and relaxation. Getting enough sleep is also an important factor. 

Also try to avoid known allergens, like dust mites, pollen and animals, and certain types of clothing, such as wool and synthetics. Some foods can also cause flare-ups - common food allergens include spicy foods, alcohol, food colouring, wheat, eggs, soy and peanut products. 

Try to avoid long, hot baths and don’t scratch if you develop itchy rashes. Seek advice from your community pharmacist if your skin appears infected.