Training through Chilblains

I’ve been having problems with swollen, itchy, purple and red toes all winter. This morning the podiatrist took one look and said I’ve got chilblains and there isn’t a thing I can do about them. They’ll go away when the weather warms up. And they’ll come back next winter.

Anyone out there in the cold weather climates also dealing with these – and if so, do you have any tips on cycling/training through it?

My understanding is the change in temperature causes them? You can get little toe warmers which are microwavable bean bags to place into your shoes. maybe use these to warm your feet or shoes before you get into things.

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Or get those heat packets/pads skiers use. Might be thin enough to put in with the shoes. Don’t place directly against skin. There are also ski socks which are heatable…run off a battery but they are mucho expensive.

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I’ve been known to be out in the garage in bibs, socks, shoes, wooly shoe covers. Find when working out hard every part of my body gets hot except feet and hands, and can sort hands by wiggling fingers occasionally.

So try booties or even taping up the holes I your shoes to stop airflow.

If however it is down to circulation being restricted you might need to loosen shoes or wear thinner socks.

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I’ve had these for years, and in places not considered “cold” (Tucson, AZ, and Bay Area, CA). My understanding of what causes them matches what @IsaacBB said: fast changes in temperature. Basically, when you’re done with a ride and your toes are freezing, don’t jump into a hot shower immediately. Try to let them warm up gradually. That’s easier said than done, and I’m not very good at it. (I had one podiatrist also say not to walk on cold tile.) I will say that waiting for them to warm up is definitely the right thing to do–my feet got pretty freezing after my race in the rain on Sunday, and I forgot to bring fresh socks. In addition to the post-race chit-chat, I had an hour’s drive home. It took forever for the toes on my right foot, in particular, to finally warm up, but I didn’t get chilblains!

For training outside, I wear wool socks and booties, and use those chemical heaters when I’m riding in the cold, but my toes still end up getting cold. My chilblains don’t show up right away–usually it takes a day or two for full impact. Maybe now that I know for sure that waiting is the best answer, I’ll try to wait a little longer for things to warm up naturally. If you’re getting these while riding inside, I’d try the chemical heaters. My recommendation is to put them on top of your feet (on top of the socks). You have better circulation on the tops, and the skin is thinner.

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