The arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to all areas of the body. Veins carry blood back to the heart once all the oxygen and nutrients have been utilised. Sometimes this system can be affected due to problems with either of the network of vessels.
Many problems within the arteries can affect the rate and efficiency of the blood getting down to the feet. Conditions such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart disease and diabetes can all impair arterial function.
If the blood flow to your feet has been affected, improvement may be obtained by following these guidelines:
- Stop smoking.
- Maintain an ideal body weight.
- Successfully control Diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Regular exercise encourages blood flow.
- Avoid tight garters, stockings etc, that may risk cutting off the circulation. A full range of Circulation socks can be found in our ONLINE PRODUCTS section.
- Heat your feet naturally by wearing woollen socks or lambswool slippers.
- Never rapidly warm your feet with heaters or hot water
- Rub cream into the feet. This not only has a massaging effect, which increases circulation, but also improves skin condition that can be adversely affected by poor circulation.
Varicose Veins, Thrombosis, Oedema (swelling) and Ulceration may indicate that the blood is not returning back to the heart efficiently. The veins may not be working (pumping blood back to the heart) as well as they should be.
Steps to assist blood flow back to the heart
- Bandaging/Elastic stockings help to maintain venous drainage and prevents the pooling of fluid around the ankles and feet. They work more efficiently if applied before getting out of bed. This limits fluid accumulating before their application.
- Elevating limbs when sitting reduces swelling and aids transport of blood back to the heart.
- Exercise regularly. Muscle action helps veins pump blood back to the heart.
- Try not to engage in prolonged periods of standing or sitting in the one position.
Chilblains are bluish/red areas of discolouration that can sometimes be swollen and lead to tissue (skin) breakdown. They are most commonly found on the underside of the toes, the big toe joint and the heels. They usually occur in the cold, Winter season.
The most common cause of chilblains is prolonged exposure to cold or dampness. This effects the circulation to the feet and constricts the small vessels in the toes, leading to chilblain formation. Some people can be more susceptible to chilblains by having:
- Hormonal or nervous system factors that affect the small blood vessels
- Genetic influence
- Diet problems
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Itching, painful toes.
- Stiff, painful joint if the chilblain is nearby.
- Blue/red skin discolouration.
- Condition made worse by rapid re-warming (i.e. putting feet near fire or hot water)
- Keep feet at a constant temperature by:
- Using lambswool insoles in shoes or wrapping toes in lambswool.
- Wearing woollen socks or lambswool slippers at home. DO NOT go barefoot, especially on cold tiles.
- A full range of Circulation socks can be found in our ONLINE PRODUCTS section.
Do not heat your feet rapidly by soaking them in hot water, placing them in front of the fire etc.
- Rub chilblain ointments or any methyl salicylate based ointments into chilblains.
- When toes are hot and itchy, Calamine lotion is preferred.
REMEMBER: ‘PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE’ … so ensure that you maintain adequate circulation to your feet by following these guidlines:
- Stop smoking.
- Control your diabetes.
- Exercise regularly.
- Elevate your feet whilst sitting down.
- Wear appropriate footwear, socks, hosiery. A full range of Circulation socks can be found in our ONLINE PRODUCTS section.
- Regular podiatry care; as early detection and treatment of chilblains prevents them from becoming dangerous, ulcerative lesions.