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itchy toe blisters
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itchy toe blisters

I have blisters on several of my toes (on both feet) and it's not from athlete's foot or poor shoes. The blisters are extremely itchy/sore and are the size of a pea. I have one on each of the first 3 toes starting with my big toe. They are mostly on top of my toe between the last knuckle and my toenail, but one is on the side/tip of one toe. They are not true blisters in that there is no fluid sack. It is simply a very swollen and red hive. It seems like really firm and inflamed tissue. There's no scaling or flaking skin, in fact, it's shiny and taught from the inflammation. The itching and soreness is so bad that it has woken me up in the middle of the night. The itching is mostly at night, but I can still feel them during the day. I put OTC hydrocortisone and/or benadryl cream on them at night but it helps little.

The same blisters last about 2 weeks and then the healing process begins and they slowly disappear. I had at least 3 separate bouts of these blisters last winter that ended in March. I did not get a single blister after that until they returned last week (Dec. 6) which is around the same time it started last year. It is independent of the shoes I wear. For example, the blisters appeared last week and I've been wearing those sneakers for over a year. I ski often in winter, but I haven't put my boots on yet this year. My diet hasn't changed. My address and work haven't changed. The only pattern I can see (if there is one) is that it happens in winter months.

I have no other symptoms or allergies. I eat healthy, stay active and just got a clean bill of health from my physician after an annual physical. I am straight and not currently sexually active. I don't have diabetes and have never been diagnosed with any other disease.

I have not seen a doctor yet for this one, but I will call tomorrow. I found an old post on this website that also sounds like my condition.

http://www.medhelp.org/forums/Dermatology/messages/31698.html

Any advice?

White Male 33yrs old. 5'5" 135lbs.

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94 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,
How are you feeling now?
Have you ever tried applying fungicides on your blisters?
I think your symptoms suggest blisters due to some fungal infection.
Blisters usually just need time to heal on their own. Keep a blister clean and dry and cover it with a bandage until it goes away. While it heals, try to avoid putting pressure on the area or rubbing it.
I think you need to consult a dermatologist regarding this as this appears to be more of chronic condition than an acute one.
Hope this helps.
Bye.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have this problem every winter for years. It helps some to keep my feet uncovered for as much of the day as possible. I've been barefoot on the cold floor all day and they feel great but last night and this morning they were bad. It doesn't make any since though since uncovered means cool and dry but hot and sweaty in the summer is common and I've never had a problem. I'd love to know what it is or if I could get rid of it but like many no money or insurance to see a doc for something small so Just put up with it.

I have been desperate enough to pierce them with a needle an squeeze and from the larger ones lots of dark blood comes out but it's a bit different than normal blood and it feels better after and seems to heal more quickly most times. Not really suggesting that due to the risk of infection. despite the fluid it's as was said no real sack to pierce but it does drain wen poked and squeezed.
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Avatar_n_tn
I think I found it
chilblains
http://www.epodiatry.com/chilblains.htm

Maybe the reason mine seemed to do better with wearing shoes less was lessening the temp changes. according to this I should keep slippers on.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Zoo,
It is not advisable to poke the blisters as this can further aggravate the infection. There could be worsening of symptoms and spreading of infection.
Blisters are best helped by leaving them alone and letting them get dry.
Bye.
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Avatar_n_tn
I know but it itches so bad and it helps and is better than hacking my toes off, ha. I agree it's a bad idea but... and have never had a problem from doing it.

I had to go to town yesterday so was in shoes all day didn't seem like my feet got cold but boy were my toes bad by the end of the day. I was good and didn't poke any though. So took some cayenne pepper to see if it helps. At least I finally got to sleep. They feel okay so far today.

It promotes good circulation which should help prevent the problem instead of just trying to treat it after the fact or try and avoid cool temps that wouldn't effect normal peoples toes, like all the other options I've found.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Everyone,
                     I was wondering if anyone knew why people ge itchy red patches on toes - in SUMMER...?
This is my first summer in this place where it gets hotter than 105 F ...and am really surprized at this red swollen patch on my toes... thats come 2 days back.. I see chilblains may be the reason for itchy toes in winter..but can someone help me with what could be the reason for these itchy red patches on toes in summer heat?
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had this problem for about 10 years I have not been diagnosed for it yet, and I can tell you it is not athletes foot I have treat it for that and it does not clear up. in between my toes on both feet, it starts by a severe itch and I will dig and itch them to the point they get raw, and yes when the itching starts the blisters come with it, and I always have to rid the blisters in order to stop the itching the itching will not stop until I pop the blisters. I have this condition weekly and it dries up and repeats itself. it does have any odor by not a strong one after itching my toes it has a mutt smell. It drives me insane the itching is over powering.

If anyone gets a drs. diagnosis   pleaseeeee let us know what it is.
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Avatar_n_tn
hi,

I also got the same itchy toes and it comes back every winter. I haven't tried any medication so far. but when it gets really itchy i soak my feet on warm or rather hot salty water which is a great relief for me.after continuing it for 2-3 days it completely disappears till next winter.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,
   Oh my gosh,. what you just describe pal23 is the exactly same problem i have. I get these really itchy toes in the winter time. I scratch it so bad that my toes are too sore to stand. And you're right when i soak them in hot water where my toes turn cherry red it stops itching. And if i continue to do it for a few days it goes away till the next winter. I went to the doctors for it but my derm couldn't see anything's wrong with it, cause by the time i get to my doc appointment i have already manage to boil my toes to death. But i would like to know if there's anyway to get rid of it for good. I have had this problem for many years and it's really starting to suck having to deal with this every winter time.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the exact same problem the only differnce is I work in a very hot and dry climate and I mean hot and dry most of summer over 100F and less than 20% humidity the temps can get to 110F regualrly and can reach 115F and beyond here. Only just started happening to me and I am unsure of what to do but I can feel for the people as the itching can be very annoying...

For Info I work in the Outback Australia.
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Avatar_n_tn
Some may have Chilblains.  Been looking up the same thing, similar symptoms, for my daughter 14.  I know it isn't fungal, already tried treating as if it was.  I know it isn't gout.  We keep coming to chilblains, which is a cold and poor circulation issue.  I've been telling her all winter to wear long sleeves and socks.  Now, she is.  

Here is a good link with more info so you can see if it is what you are experiencing:
http://www.podiatryvic.com.au/Public/Facts2.htm
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Avatar_n_tn
I have Chilblains since I was a kid. I had ulcers as a result once. It's amazing doctors have no cure for it. After lots of researches, I found one cure which was also described by one of the responses above: warm/hot water soaking. Unless you have infection already, soak your feet in water as hot as you can bear for a couple of days and they should go away. They will relapse. The best prevention method is to wear socks/shoes to keep your feet warm and blood circulated there. I hope other people can benefit from reading this.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had this problem for several years now, and it seems to be getting worse.  My feet are fine all year long and when spring hits and I go out in flip flops in the sun. My feet just on the tops get the itchyest blisters on them.  They take along time to go away and my skin is not burned at all I just get these big blister looking things on them. I get them on my fingers off and on all summer as well.  What is this and what can I do to take the itch out?  
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the same thing going on every winter for the past three or four years...did anyone figure out what it is or how to treat it? I have tried about everything I can think of.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have what sounds like the same or a very similar problem.  A toe or two suddenly is rather itchy.  Within a few days, most of my toes are itching insanely.  The skin looks normal, except for a few small red bumps.  Then blisters come up within a week; they're not hard, just a bit watery and flat.  The skin becomes incredibly sensitive, so if I bump my toes on something, it can almost bring me to tears.  The skin becomes reddened or shiny, not dry.  The problem is on the tops and sides of my toes and a little bit on the bottoms of my little toes.  The rest of me is fine.

The itching is so bad that I can't get to sleep, and it wakes me during the night.  My toes are so swollen and sensitive that I can't wear shoes unless they're huge, and I walk at a slow careful stumble.  The itching is worse at night, and if my feet are warm.

I had the same thing last year at about this time of year.  This year, I got it over Christmas break, when I was staying in and hibernating.  My doctor tried to diagnose chilblains (aka chill bites), but I hadn't been out for 5 days.  Then he said the problem was ill-fitting footwear, but I'd been wearing socks and slippers for a week.  (I AM a domestic goddess!)  He also went for Athlete's Foot, but heavy-duty A.F. ointments took the edge off the problem without solving it.

What I've done that helps:  keep my feet cool or cold.  After a hot shower, hold each foot in turn under pure cold water, until it's thoroughly cooled down.  Turn down the heat, and put on sweaters.  To complete my glamourous ensemble, I keep my feet warm and toes cold by cutting the toes off a pair of socks!  Sleeping with no blankets or sheets on my feet at all.  Soaking my feet in cold water with diluted bleach in it.  Avoiding any socks and shoes - stay barefoot as much as possible.  Applying a small bag of frozen peas or corn offers relief within minutes.  If I freeze my feet right down, I can usually get back to sleep.  Hydrocortisone cream helps a bit.  

When I am desperate to have a good scratch, I put a piece of cloth over my toes, hold it in place, then scratch through the cloth.  That means that I'm feeling the benefit of the scratching, but purely through pressure rather than through friction or scraping.  I'm hoping it means I do less damage.

FWIW, I'm female, aged 46, living in a chilly damp climate in a house with chaotic and insufficient heating.  I have an underactive thyroid, for which I'm on Thyroxin.  I have a mildish case of Reynaud's Phenomenon, for which I'm on my guard.

gr99, I am so very grateful for your posting.  I've searched and searched on the internet, and yours is the first description that sounds very like me.  thank you.

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Avatar_n_tn
I have this exact same problem every winter.  I usually get it much earlier in the year (its mid January 2010).  Ive tried every Athletes foot med out there, & they don't really do much.  The closest thing Ive come to a diagnosis is Chilblains. As soon as spring comes it goes away.  This will be the 4th winter I've had it.

The best thing for me I've found that helps is using Queen Helen's Mud Mask for your face but putting it on my toes and letting it dry for 15-20 mins and then rising in really warm water.  I also try to not wear socks or shoes for as much of the day as possible.
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Avatar_f_tn
Itchy toe blisters and Reslic,
You two could be describing my symptoms. I do the exact same things as you to bring relief. Last night the itch was so bad I put in an after-hours call to the doctor. He has no idea what it is and has asked me to get some bloodwork done to include CBC, immune tests and sugar. Hoping that it is nothing serious. Thanks for all your posts though. At least I know I am not the only one with this problem. I am female, 37 and not overweight. Can't seem to really find answers online for this.
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Avatar_f_tn
SOLVED!  I've got my toes on the mend, and hope that my diagnosis and solution will benefit you and anyone else who's going mental with blistered toes that itch ferociously.

My diagnosis was chilblains.  (Even though I hadn't even been outside for a week, I'd somehow got chilblains.  Go figure.)

I was in a vicious cycle:  poor circulation (from Raynaud's Phenomenon) means I need to take deliberate steps to keep my feet warm, so they'll heal.  But with the slightest heat, they itched ferociously.  Mind-killingly, tear-jerkingly, lung-burstingly, pig-whimperingly ferociously.  Eventually I succumbed and scratched, tearing the skin and we are back to square 1:  damaged skin that needs to heal.

The solution:  a prescription topical numbing agent called Instillagel.  Hospitals squirt it into body cavities before doing various procedures.  Or in my case, I squirt a bit onto my toes.  It didn't stop the itching completely or immediately, and the effect only lasts 30 - 40 minutes.  But that was enough to break the cycle, letting me stop scratching and get some blessed sleep.  Within a week, the itching had stopped on its own, and I didn't need the gel.  My toes still look disgusting, but no pain and I can wear shoes.  They're slowly on the mend.  I am able to think about something other than my toes, which is a pleasant change.

What I'm doing now is the exact opposite of what I was doing before: I'm keeping them warm.  Thick hiking socks (1 or 2 pairs).  Avoid cold weather.  Take the bus where it's warm, instead of walking in the cold.  When I'm at home, I sit with my feet on a heating pad.  Those little piggies stay toasty.

Suggestion:  get some sort of topical numbing agent that's ok to put on open blisters.  Use it as often as you need to to keep the itching at bay.  Keep your feet warm so they'll heal.

Best wishes,
Reslic
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello everyone - It's 2:30 in the morning as I write this with my toes covered in 25% bleach/water!
I've had this horrible thing almost a year, about three raging episodes so far. It's what you're describing - one toe starts itching but no visible marks, then many toes are itching, bright red, swollen and shiny. Some parts become purple - little pea-sized patches.

There's sometimes a hard bump under the skin, sometimes a small flat blister-like thing, sometimes just a little red circle like a small zit.

The itching is horrendous. I've been diagnosed with eczema, athlete's foot, a bacterial/viral co-infection (that doc prescribed Fucidin H which actually got rid of the itching on first application but now seems to have STOPPED WORKING!)  and i'm currently on oral novo-ketoconazole (7 days and no relief).

So, my powers of deduction tell me that since Fucidin is antibacterial that it must be a bacterial infection?? I too got it first in the winter, a bit in the fall and it started up again a few weeks ago.

I find the super-hot water soaks take away the itch, also the ice water soaks (except tonight!). I seemed to be having success for awhile applying organic apple cider (controlled the itch) but it didn't seem to help the overall problem. Calamine lotion helps too sometimes.

I wash my socks in bleach and change them often but this doesn't seem to have any effect. I try to sanitize my shoes by blasting them with a hairdryer and putting baking soda in them.

I didn't think chilblains were a possibility because my feet were rarely cold - I always wore thick thermal hiking socks and the reverse was usually true - my feet were drowning in sweat. But maybe it's worth looking at this again, maybe the Fucidin cure was a fluke.

Anyway if anyone has any insights to share, send 'em on!
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Avatar_f_tn
Prariebound, I'm so sorry you're going through this, and I totally empathise.

I thought my problem couldn't be chilblains, since I hadn't even been outside in the week before my toes went Bad.

Bleach, tea tree oil and Lamisil all helped temporarily, so I also though it was some sort of bacteria or fungus.

But it seems I was wrong:  it's chilblains.  I'm now keeping my feet warm (thick socks and an occasional heating pad), wiggling my toes to improve circulation, and using a numbing gel if I feel the urge to itch.  They're slowly getting better: the blisters have healed, the itching has largely stopped, and the shiny swelling has gone down.  Now they're just red in patches and - oddly - have lots of what appears to be moist bits of skin that are flaking off, like a bad case of "toe dandruff".  I know, I know:  sexy!
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your reply! I should have mentioned that a couple of the little red spots had also appeared on my heels  - literally one tiny spot on each heel -  and they also itch like hell - do you know if chilblains can occur on the heels? It ACTS like an infectious thing because it seems to be getting worse but maybe I'm making it worse by the ice water baths and having freezing toes all the time from going barefoot in February. This is enough to make me crazy.
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Avatar_n_tn
So after reading several comments on this post as well as a few articles on Chilblains I think that those of you soaking your feet in hot water may be stopping the itch temporarily but not doing much to stop the cause of the rash.  The condition is caused when your feet go from hot to cold - and for those with sensitive skin or poor circulation it can happen with even the slightest change in temperature.  So from what I can tell, heating your feet up suddenly or making them really cold may be making things worse.

What's been working for me is keeping my feet warm (good cotton socks & Uggs do wonders) but not hot and applying Cortizone 10 whenever the itch strikes up.  Unfortunately it sounds like there's not much we can do about preventing it from happening other than trying to make sure that we're not going from hot to cold too quickly.  After the infection strikes it's best to find something topical that works to stop the crazy itching and then wait it out.

Good luck to everyone - I know how irritating this condition can be!!
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Just thought I'd follow up on my earlier (desperate) post - as per Reslic's suggestion I started treating this as chillblains and even on the first day of that my feet felt better than they had in a week.

eedelee, you're right that I think the ice water baths and hot hot water soaks were making it worse. I've been researching chillblains like crazy and found that some people are sensitive to even minor changes in temp. Here I've been sitting at a desk all day with bare (freezing) feet and then when the itch flares up doing the hot/cold thing.

I've started keeping my feet warm (but not letting them get hot) and elevating them while I"m at the desk, and when they feel itchy I go for a fast 40 min walk (on the assumption that that'll get the circulation going again) and after the walk the itching usually subsides!   I was amazed when this happened.

I'll start taking some supplements too  that are supposed to improve circulation (i.e. ginger, cayenne). My feet still look like hell but they feel 100 per cent better.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am gr99 and I wrote the original post to this thread back in 2007. After 23 replies and counting, I guess I am not alone with this disease. I'll give you an update on what I've learned. I continue to display the same symptoms on my toes as my original post and this is the first winter that I noticed discoloration in my fingers during cold and it is a classic sign of Raynauds Phenomenon. A dermatologist recently diagnosed me with Chilblains (feet) and Raynaud's Disease (hands). First, there is no cure. It is a circulation disorder and those who are trying bleach on their feet are only hurting themselves more. Sudden temperature changes are bad. Don't jump into a hot shower with cold feet. You must slowly warm them up first. In my experience, turn the heat up a little more than you used to during the winter and avoid walking on cold floors, especially when your feet are wet (after a shower or bath). Try to keep your feet warm and dry. If your feet begin to itch you have already begun the process of getting a chilblain - which means your feet must have been exposed to cold prior to the itch. My feet only itch when they are warm, ie, under the foot heater vent in my car, or after a run on the treadmill. If they itch, slowly cool them a few degrees and elevate the feet. Do not cool them with ice, it is too cold. Also, don't wear mesh running shoes in the winter, they are too cold on the tops of your toes. Wear comfortable closed toe shoes with wool socks (smartwool) and keep them dry with powder. Having said all this, I can honestly say this is my best winter yet with the fewest episodes. Why? I try to understand what brings on an episode (temperature) and avoid pitfalls. I have not taken any medication yet but I heard there is a steroidal cream for the itch. Never itch your toes. Here is more info. GOOD LUCK!  :)

gr99

http://www.dermnet.org.nz/reactions/chilblains.html

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/raynaud/ray_what.html


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Avatar_f_tn
It's wonderful to hear about people getting better!  Hurrah for you and your feet!

When I last saw a specialist about my Reynaud's Syndrome, he mentioned a drug that widens the capillaries, so you get better circulation and don't get the icy fingers and toes.  He said it takes a few months to work, so you need to start taking it each year before cold weather sets in (if it's the weather that's providing the chill that leads to the problems).  

Having said that, the dr was reluctant to put me on it unless it was really necessary; apparently my case of Reynaud's was considered too mild to medicate.  Fine by me - I don't want to take any meds unnecessarily.  I'd rather do all I can to prevent the problem by keeping my feet at a steady warm temperature.

Just thought you might want to know there's a medication available, in case your situation is more severe.

My next appt is at the end of March.  (I'm in England, so we have the NHS.  It's free, but it can take a while to see a specialist for non-urgent care.)  If I find out the name of the drug, I'll let you know.

Just thought I'd mention that there is a drug that may help.  ... mind you, it may not have got past the USA's FDA.  but that's not all bad.  After all, it was a woman in the FDA who prevented thalidomide being prescribed to pregnant women in the US, while much of the rest of the world suffered huge tragedies from thalidomide.
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You guys are a Godsend! I seriously thought of cutting off my foot! This is my first time experiencing this and the itching alone keeps me up at night. I just got home from seeing my doctor and she said it was because of my shoes being too tight. Which isn't the case because I never wear tight shoes. She referred me to a podiatrist. Because of this message board I know exactly what to say and what to get.

THANK YOU!
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Avatar_m_tn
hey guys, im a 31 year old healthy active guy, i work out five times a week an im very active in my everyday life, around early december 2009 i got an itchy big toe, then the toe next to my lil toe started itching, now we are in marc an both feet are affected, the itching is unbearable, doc said it was a stress related infection an gave me a steroid cream, didnt work, next doc said chilblains, i still have no real idea, all i know is, the toes feel swollen, there seem t be on each toe a lil spot under the skin which is very painful, also the skin feels swollen? almost like theres something growin under the skin? its been months now!!!!!! argh!!!!! help!!!!!! x :-)
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Avatar_f_tn
well i have the same problem i been having blisters for awhile now and they also seem to come up during winter with me because i have to wear tennis...which i think that my feet get moist and sweaty and i get blisters...my blisters dry out in out two to three days and my skin falls off but then again i get them again and almost in the same spot...sometimes the have clear liquid inside the blister...any ideas on wht it could be been to the dr they dont help much
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Avatar_f_tn
Your symptoms sound rather like mine:  There seemed to be a soft spot deep under the skin in most of the places where I had a blister.  Sometimes I could see a dark spot under the skin, about the size of this:  O.  It was very tender if I pressed it, like a bruise.  

My symptoms also started on one toe before appearing on the toes nearby, then later leaping to the other foot.  I don't think this necessarily fits the pattern for chilblains, but that was my eventual diagnosis.

More importantly, the treatment for chilblains gradually worked:  get something to soothe the itching, so you don't tear up the skin with scratching and it can heal.  And so you don't completely lose your mind.  (My doc gave me Instillagel.  But I was ready to go to the chemist and get some, erm, "male delay" potion to put on my toes!).  Keep feet warm.  If itching starts, run around a little indoors to get the circulation going, and/or use a heating pad to warm them up slowly.  Avoid exposure to cold floors, showers, weather.  If toes feel chilly, warm them gradually with a heating pad or similar.

I usually work from home, so I wear thick hinking socks with no shoes, in order to keep my feet as warm as possible and avoid restricting the circulation.

Since you work out frequently (btw, I'm impressed!), you may want to check whether you have Athlete's Foot or some other infection from the showers at the gym.  Until you're sure, wear shower shoes and take steps to avoid passing the lurve on to someone else.
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Avatar_f_tn
Sounds like  'dyshidrotic dermatitis'.i get small blisters on the sides of my hands and fingers, also sides of feet and toes with some itch. When they go the skin goes hard and peels off. I looked up the symptoms and this is what I found.
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Avatar_n_tn
I think I have found a solution, my toes - and this year my whole foot has been particularly bad and have tried every cream the doctor and pharmacist have recommended and really was getting to the point of amputation then I was at a market the other day with this chap selling some seaweed powder called Aalgo.  Very sceptical but very desperate and IT WORKS!!  You mix some warm water into the powder to make a very stinky seaweed paste and you put all over your feet and wrap in clingfilm and then rinse off after 40 mins - I have been using for just over a week and the itching has completely stopped, the blisters gone and the sores I created from scratching have almost healed.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had similar symptoms until I was sent to a specialist for allergy testing.  I was diagnosed with an allergy to dyes in certain shoes.  The problem is, since shoes are made from various materials, it is extremely difficult to determine exactly where the allergy derives.  In my case, it was determined to be a specific blue dye; therefore, I had to get rid of all blue socks and any blue shoes with a blue, non-leather lining.  A topical cream (Clobetasol) was also prescribed with helped with the itching, rashes and blisters.  I have been free of this problem since my diagnosis was made over 5 years ago.  
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Avatar_n_tn
hi, i have this problem also, it seems that it is something you just have to learn to live with. i have found that lamasil, which is available  in most uk pharmacies,  stops the itching instantly, then in a day or two the skin flakes to reveal a solid lump like a scab that was the fluid in the blister. the active ingredient in lamasil  is terbinafine hydrochloride. hope this relieves some your itching.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have suffered from a hot left foot with blisters on and off for years now and the doctors don't seem to know what it is. I, like many of you, have tried allsorts of things but the best one for me is Hand Gel. The sort you use when going to visit at hospitals. I find it cools my foot and relieves the itching and seems to promote healing. Hand gel also works well on cold sores. I think it must be the alcohol content that does it. Is there anyone else who only has this problem on one foot and not the other? I doubt it's my shoes as I wear many different ones depending on what I'm doing and the doc says it's not athletes foot. I never wear socks or tights etc and I like to walk around barefoot at home. It can't be contagious as no-one else in the house has this problem, also I'm not overweight and am not a diabetic, nor do I have any skin complaints other than this. Looks like I'm as stumped as the rest of you for a cause but try the hand gel, it does help and it seems to stop it coming back as often.
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Avatar_f_tn
Well I have all of the above symptoms too. I live in Darwin Australia, so no cold to worry them. Just started recently (last year or so) and I'm 48yo female. I can not stand this itching anymore. Mine's on last 2 toes on both feet, and little blisters in between each toe. The last time it occurred was between big toe and second toe and that was horrid, went kinda black in between.... I am gonna give this Aalgo a go. Will let you know how it goes :)
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It may be a herpes 1 outbreak. Check out takingabiteoutoflyme.com day 22.
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Avatar_n_tn
i've had several bouts with this also and i think i just found the answer.
Chilblains.  except for the temperature causing it, i don't see that as the cause for me.  maybe it also has to do with circulation in the body.  i've been to the doc and just got some creme, does help with the itching, desoximetasone. any other ideas?  
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Thank you to everyone posting. Based on my symptoms and reading this discussion board, I believe I too have chilblains. My toes look exactly like the chilblains wikipedia post (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilblains). My itchiness doesn't seem nearly as bad as others (I like have two feet / ten toes, even if they are itchy little things!), but it is bothersome enough to search for a diagnosis/treatment. So thanks again, especially to those writing how they have avoided the problem.
- Male, age 29, healthy active lifestyle, lots of time outdoors, moist cool climate
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I have had this malady (chillbain/perniosis), with the unpleasant symptoms described above, for about ten years.  

Based on the success of acupunture in treating my wife's chronic migraines, and the complete lack of treatment for chillbains available through conventional (Western) medicine, I recently tried acupuncture .  Thus far it appears to have been effective and I will post in the coming weeks as to the results longer term.

A note to those who dismiss acupuncture out of hand: don't.  It has been effective for a thousand years in China and is becoming more and more accepted in the West.  It effects remedies without using drugs and hence has no side effects, and offers relief for some maladies for which Western medicine has no answer, like this one.
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Hi, Can't believe this forum has been running for 3 years, well done. I have similar symptoms on 2 toes.  I visited the doctor today and she is unsure what it is, but thinks it looks like chilblains.  I do get cold hands/feel, but don't warm them quickly.  Also have redness under big toe nail, which is sore to touch.  Does anyone else have this symptom?
She has given me antibiotics in case it's an infection, if this doesn't work I will be referred to podiatry.
Also, in winter occasionally a finger can go white to the knuckle with cold and starts to go numb.  I can usually warm it quickly by putting it in my pocket.  Was investigated for Raynauds years ago, but told didn't have it.
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It looks like the acupuncture is working.  Two days now and no new symptoms at all.  No burning at night, a real relief.
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It's amazing how many people have this itchy toe condition.  I've had it for a few years now and have gone through a lot of what everyone has posted.  My current dermatologist said it's not chilblains even though my toes look a lot like the ones in the Wikipedia post (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilblains).  He said that Los Angeles weather is too warm to get chilblains.  Does anyone know if that is true?

For now, I am trying Vanos (fluocinonide cream 0.1%) for a couple of weeks.  Still, this is only treating the symptoms and I really want to know the cause.

@wshhh - please continue to post how the acupuncture is going because I may want to go that route.

As for treating symptoms, I found that spraying canola oil on my foot works really well to get rid of the itching.  Funny, some of the chilblains sites say to do that, so this again leads me to believe that that's what I have.

On a more global note, is this a recent phenomenon for everyone?  I've only had it for a few years, and I thought it's because I started running a lot more.  Did people have this 10-20 years ago, and if not, what are we doing differently now to have brought on the Itchy Feet Menace?
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Your dermatologist may be wrong.  I live in a warm house, wear thick toasty socks and had not been outside for three days, but I got chilblains.  Finally worked out how it happened:  in the shower.  I think the hot water heated my toes up too fast, so I got chilblains.
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by mi.
Wow. This thread has a wealth of info for chilblain folks. Something I noticed was that a number of folks describe symptoms just like most everyone else here and seem not to have any idea what was going on even though causes and many potential suggestions had already been posted. For folks with swollen, madly itchy toes who have read part of this thread and found no helpful info, I'd recommend reading all of it.

So here's a detailed summary of my experiences so far:
About a year or more ago I first noticed symptoms that were similar to the chilblains (it seems) that I now have. I don't remember if I had any extreme or quick temperature changes. I do remember being quite warm actually. I was sedentary most of the day in a warmed room with slippers on. My feet were quite warm. Toward the end of that day (I think) a number of my toes got very swollen and eventually even bruised looking. I think they itched, but certainly not as much as most people describe here or as much as my toes itch now. They healed decently enough after a while.

A few months ago I had a potentially related issue (potentially unrelated too). I got a bee sting between my toes. A week later two of my toes swelled up (the ones where the bee sting was) and itched a lot. Lasted for a few days or a week. I only mention it because it was on my toes and felt quite similar to what i have now.

   Two weeks ago my feet were really cold for the morning. I was barefoot (I've been going mostly barefoot for about a year now) and the temp might have been 35-40 ˚F, 5-15 ˚C. Once the day warmed up, my feet were fine. Five hours later my girlfriend and I rode our bikes and bus home on a long commute through the rain. I was wearing some vibram five-finger-shoe-things on the ride and noticed my toes feeling swollen. Don't know if the shoes had anything to do with this or if the swelling just occurred at this time on its own.
   Since then, my toes have been somewhat to quite swollen. Less than a week ago is when they started itching - after they were warmed up under a blanket for a while. I was asleep. When I woke up an hour or few later, my toes ached a bunch. Now any time they've gotten a little too warm, they itch like mad for a couple hours. Cold temps stop the itch after about 10min. I've scratched them gently alot to relieve the itch. They don't seem to need hard scratching. I just researched found and researched chilblains tonight so have not tried any remedies yet.
  A note: I think my mom had reynauds. I'm not sure if i do. Besides what i've described so far, I've never had what reynauds folks have described.

   One difference (at least as far as I can tell) with my case compared to others is that I'm generally barefoot all the time. I'm in the SF bay area of california so temperatures here only get a little below freezing during the winter. I also tend to push my edges of cold comfort and am generally comfortable or as comfortable as most people around me even if they have much warmer clothes on. This is my first winter being always barefoot and I've noticed my feet getting more and more comfortable with colder temperatures, so I'm reluctant to go shod in relatively cumbersome hiking shoes and thick socks all winter as a remedy.
   I'm hoping that that one incident when my feet were really cold is the cause of this itch. I don't mind avoiding extremes with the help of some shoes. Does anyone have any recommendations for avoiding/reducing chilblains in winter besides wearing warm shoes all winter. I'm going to try exercise when I'm cold, avoiding extreme cold, and perhaps some creams/acupuncture/whatnot for now. Any other suggestions for someone who would only go in shoes all winter as a last resort.

thank you thank you thank you
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I' ve been having some toe issues every winter for years...I get a little red spot under the skin of my big toes, which hurts to touch and throbs when my feet are cold. There's no itching and it takes a month or longer for them to sort of come to the surface and they eventually turn into a sort of callous and dry up and peel away. I don't know why they come only in the winter and they're very painful to walk on. It's been happening for about 7 years now...any help on this? Right now three of them cropped up at the same time when it got cold here...thanks!
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Thank you everyone for the helpful comments, especially the original poster of this thread.  I have been searching everywhere and finally found some good answers about chilblains.  I thought I originally had athlete's foot or something.  

One thing I would like to add about reducing the itching.  Never scratch your toes.  Instead, GENTLY massage them, the idea is to get the blood flowing normally back into your toes again.  It has greatly reduced the itching in my toes for days now, but hasn't reduced the redness yet.  
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I have the red, swollen, taut toes every winter. They do get itchy - what really helps the itchiness is Eucerin original cream. I use some of the other Eucerin lotions all year on my feet but in winter it has to be the thick original.
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Be warned!!!
Here's my lil story.
I developed the same thing this past month.  Itchy blistery swollen toes.  Started about two weeks ago.  I thought it was athlete's foot, something that bothered me once, fifteen years ago.  BUT! It looks and feels VERY different.  NOT the flaking off, but swelling, not the holes between your toes but blistering.  
Not wanting to pay for a doctor visit i got some internet advice and bought clotrimazole to "fix" it.  After just a few hours of slathering it on, the toes got SO much worse.  It seemed to relieve them at first, but over time they got SO much itchier and painful and swollen and what started as two or three problem toes became ten, until i was seriously considering "how many toes have to remain before i look stupid at the beach, because i'm smashing off the rest" and was in tears.  
THEN! i found this very website, and all of you with the same symptoms as me, and conclusive evidence.  I live in swampy, dank Florida, humid town- and the past weeks we've had a handful of days below freezing and i don't have heat, just a space heater that i stick my feet directly on as soon as i'm too cold.  aha!
so i never heard of this "chillbrains" until i found you people here, and amazingly everything sounds the same!  

So what happened?  the discovery that it's not a fungus led me to wipe off the precious $20 antifungal cream that was coating the little devils.  Within fifteen minutes, the swelling stopped and i could walk again.  a christmas miracle.  so what i think i've discovered is, yes, the warming up helps, but the moisture and lotion to relieve itching actually makes it worse.  dry!  dry!  dry!!!
i wish i took some "before" pictures.
  
thanks thanks thanks, free doctors! god bless us, every one!!!
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Thank's everyone for your input. I have had this same problem along with some of my family for years.  All I have done is try myriads of powders and creams to no avail. Could never find any reason they went away, so all I do now is keep them cold and wait it out. But now with finding this forum I am a little more knowledgeable of what they are and what could be causing them to appear and heal. If anyone comes up with the magic formula to heal them and not have to worry about how you take care of you feet, I am all ears. LOL
Take care folks
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i used to live in russia and had this problem for as long as i can remember. i could never figure out why i got it but it was only during winter  months.but now that i live in texas where the climate is warmer i never have that stuff anymore. this winter however it came in stronger than ever and i was miserable. then i found this forum and realized that i got into the hot tub every night after exercising. i have tile flooring and never wear socks or slippers and my feet are always ice cold. so every time i get in the hot tub i would get stingy feet. and my feet were getting worse and worse and nothing seemed help. after reading this forum i started having socks on at all times, just cotton socks and after 5 days it's almost gone. i am so thankful to have found all this help. the key is to keep your feet just the right temp, not cold or hot. thanks a lot!
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Thanks to everyone participating here. I can't believe I just found this site!  It's wonderful.  I feel like I have won the lottery.  
I've had 'spotty' swollen toes, itchy toes, painful toes for I don't know how many winters & it's been awful.  In ND you have to wear something on your feet in the wintertime too, none of which is very easy to do when things are flaring.  Many days I can't wear a shoe & have to be barefoot.  As always cotton socks are the best, but again, keeping a sock on no matter how loose is painful too.  I have determined that seamless socks or socks without toes should be the only ones made!  

The worst day a couple years ago had me nuts while driving.  I literally had my winter Sorrell boots & socks off, heat off, one foot up on the dash pressed against the window trying to cool & when I got to my final stop I'm sure I looked ridiculous.  I got out of my vehicle and put my bare feet right in a snowbank.  I couldn't take it anymore & the customer I was visiting thought I had lost it. Until he saw my toes. I couldn't even think straight anymore and just doused them in the cold to make them feel better. That day I went straight to the doctor & he suspected Raynauds.  He called a friend at the Mayo Clinic & also my arthritic doc too.  They discussed things further & thought nitro was the plan; however, vasodilators aren't the best medicine for me. Opening of the vessels could be a problem because I have very low blood pressure to begin with.  One thing I have to ask all of you..... how is your blood pressure?  Mayo said low BP obviously doesn't help matters for toe circulation esp in the cold. Complete simple sense. Bless those docs because they've been the only ones who have really seemed concerned & tried to help me... probably because one of them suffers from Raynauds himself & my arthritic doc has seen me at my worst before my knee surgeries.  Every other doc has said, "Well, we know it gets better in the warmer months so let's just wait it out".  Meanwhile they have shoes on their feet and walk smoothly out of a room!  I have chosen not to go on meds for low BP too.  Mayo, the Raynauds doc & my arthritic doc don't believe in meds unless it's completely necessary & we are sure of things.... & we aren't.  When it comes to BP if you start messing with meds too it seems you are never off of them ever again.  I might be 48, but I'm too young to start that circus.  My arthritic doc has tested me for many types of arthritis/odd disorders & I appreciate that, but we come up with negative results every time (a good thing) and yet being empty handed is frustrating too.  We have all felt we are missing something.  It's almost mind boggling that we've looked for years for something & no one has ever mentioned Chilblains.  Maybe because it's too easy?  Probably too because my family HIGHLY flunks all autoimmune deficiency reports (MS, asthma, lupus, sclerdoma, myasthenia gravis, you name it we have it in multiples within my family - I test negative to all though) and therefore everyone has always concentrated on those issues being a cause and not looked perhaps for an easy obvious answer.  Beleive me when I say, I don't want any of those things, but if I do have something, I just want an answer so I can deal with it.

Anyway, it would appear that Chilblains is what I'm dealing with. Bless you all for the postings!!
I couldn't have written what I feel and see more clearly than what some of you have penned.  I have gone crazy and can't find anyone around here that suffers from the same thing, or at least admits to it other than my daughter appears to have a few things showing up now.

Sometimes it feels as though something wants out from the inside and is scratching its way to the surface.  At times mine too can come to a pinpoint blood blister and then ooze dark thick blood and OOOH that feels great when the pressure is relieved.  Usually the blood blister doesn't present itself though unless I have massaged them for comfort.  I try to just massage lightly and not scratch.  Right now 8 of 10 toes have something on them from the harder spots that are sore, tips that are bulbous and sore, to hive type characters, major swellings, one looks to have a blister but that would be because it's so swollen it rubs on the toenail edge of the one beside it.  All the issues are from the toe base to the tip of the toes only.  It's never beyond the toe base into the foot.  My kids tell me I walk like a duck because I hold my toes up because I don't want to touch them on anything.  I don't even notice it anymore.  

I've got some arthritis too in my knee joints (couple surgeries already) and people have always attributed my lack of circulation to the feet with the fact that I have everyday slight swellings in my knees... some of which could be true..... however, after reading all of your postings, I'm convinced that Chilblains is the real culprit. Maybe it's a combination of a few things too, but Chilblains is SO exact.  I've experimented with things for years and now I have a few more things to try.  THANK YOU!
I do have a couple things that I do that seem to help me through episodes though. Just recently I have started to put blue emu oil on my toes which with a light massage. It offers much needed relief. I haven't been doing this long enough to know if the long term effects of relief take hold, but people I know with swollen joints from arthritis swear by it.  I've spent $12 in worse ways. After two days I can see immense differences.  I have more movement and less irritation than I've had in weeks.  Following an arthritic/.gout diet, by recommendation of my arthritic doc's wife, helps too.  She was involved in my knee surgeries and saw the buildup in my knees firsthand.  Basically anything that we can do to help the body naturally fight swelling and irritation is good. Extra purine in your system (gout) doesn't help when we have swelling and the soreness in tissues of anykind. Eating blueberries when I have discomfort from the swell/itchings has helped too & lowering the yeast content in my diet has made a world of difference esp when the itching episodes are prevelant. I like dark beer too.... it will aggrevate my toes like clockwork in the wintertime. If my toes are sore and I push a rich, yeasty, seafood, any high purine items, it's worse. I have been tested for gout numerous times too. I'm negative. I have just adopted the policy for cooler times... stick to the basic gout diet guidlines and don't aggrevate swollen tissues with more inside bodily irritants like purines. When the summer months come back and the toes seem normal... I have no problems with any foods. It may seem like the two shouldn't be related but, the body works in mysterious ways.  Keeping oneself hydrated is important too.  When it comes to the itching, I like the emu oil the best for it's relief. None of this is a cure, but it's sure a sense of relief when you can't take it anymore.
The last strange thing I do is I wear a strong magnetic bracelet on one ankle & wrist. Just started that this fall.  My carpal tunnel swellings have dissappeared and I believe my toe swellings aren't as bad. Don't get me wrong, they are still irritated, but better. Correlated with the toes?  I don't know. With the wrist, yes. I take it off & it swells/sore within 3 days, along with elbow issues, put it back on & it goes away.  I figure if it helps the wrist it may help the toe circulation too.  Why not?  Heck, if it's only in our heads that something helps.... mind over matter is a powerful tool.  Anything is better than a ton of bills for meds & doc visits that lead us nowhere.

I appreciate everything all of you have shared.  I don't feel like I'm crazy anymore (you might think I am though). Someone else shares my toe issues!  Thank you SO much for your words and new ideas to try.  
God bless you all.        
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Update Jan 2011

I am gr99 and I wrote the original post 4 years ago. It is -21C in Boston today and I feel compelled to write another update. I have some good news to share.

Correction: I used toe blisters in the title of my original post. To avoid confusion, they were not blisters but cold-induced hives. Hives are a more appropriate term.

My doctor has been monitoring my chilblains/Raynauds for years and back in October he put me on the smallest daily dose of Nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker that relaxes blood vessels. I take one everyday in the morning with breakfast. It has been a miracle drug for me. It is now the end of January and I have not had a single case of cold induced hives! Not one. This is the first time in 4 years I can say that!

It can lower blood pressure and cause dizziness or fainting but at the lowest dose I have had absolutely no side-effects. I'm not a big fan of taking medication but after trying everything else including topical creams I felt justified to try. Also, this treatment makes sense because it PREVENTS the onset of the toe hives in the first place and doesn't treat the itchiness and symptoms associated AFTER a flare-up.

Please note: I am not advising anyone here to take a medication. Only your doctor can do that. I am simply sharing my experience and observations.
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im 15.... this is year number 2 for me its cold outside being winter...year round i have cold hands and feet... my feet dont itch really but thy are klike super red where the bumps are and im scared they arent going to go away and i cant wear socks and slippers too long cuz my feet sweat very adly i dont kno what to do please help me!!!!!! :(
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My 6 year-old seems to Chilblains. She suffers from it for the third winters already since we had moved to N.H.. very cold here! Many posting here claim that soaking the feet in hot water will help. But I wonder why she suffer the most while she is having hot bath, especially when the water is  warmer, her toes became red and swollen right away. Anybody know the reasons?
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Reading this blog is the first time I have realized I'm not the only one with terrible toes during the winter so THANK YOU.  I am 22 years old and the (pernio I guess) has been going on for about 3 years now every winter.  I have always had bad circulation and have had raynauds in my fingers and toes before.  Now I wake up at 3 AM feeling like my feet are on fire.  I immediately apply cortizone cream which stops the itching and allows me to go back to sleep.  I have taken everyone's advice for months now to keep my feet warm with socks; however, when my toes get too warm, they get irritated and inflamed.  I don't know if it is better to let the blisters air out by not wearing socks or if I should continue to keep them warm.  My feet are generally always freezing, but I don't notice until I touch them with my hands.  It is weird.  I may try the seaweed wrap...  
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Calamine lotion is the only thing that has helped me.  I make sure I keep it on my feet both day and night, and re-apply after showering.  It provides me enough relief that I can sleep undisturbed at night.  Before I used Calamine, I was like everyone else, I wanted to cut my toes off my feet the itching was so bad.  I pray that it continues to work for me and hope that it works for others as well.
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Hello all,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the information and ideas. It hit me out of nowhere, I didn't know what to do and you all helped me to understand. Thank you.

Now, here is what I did. I went to an acupuncturist for a different reason and showed him my feet. 2 sessions helped. My toes were like sausages with blisters all over them, itched somewhat horribly. Well, I cannot explain what he did actually, but he stuck needles on the top of my feet. The other things he suggested are: to soak or wash my feet in warm water at least twice a day and use triple antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin) on them. When the blisters burst or you poke into them and liquid gets out, you can use iodine to disinfect and make them dry faster. I'm almost back to normal now, and it took only 5 days to recover.

Calamine lotion also helps.

I hope that would help at least some of you. Good luck!
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Boy, it is so strange how we all suffer from the same symptoms and yet we all have so much trouble getting diagnoses and/or treatments from medical professionals.

I suffer from the exact signs and symptoms described by the majority of the posters to this forum.  Four years ago, I had my first outbreak, which (coincidentally?) followed my only experience of gout ever in my life (for reference, I am a 25 y.o. woman, in excellent health, very health weight, exercise frequently, but do have low blood pressure and poor circulation, as well as a family history of gout and potentially also chilblains).  At that time, I had glistening red, swollen toes that itched and burned tremendously when exposed to hot shower water or covered by a blanket at night.  I couldn't help but scratch in the beginning, which led to the development of bluish spots on the itchiest parts of my toes.  My doctor was perplexed, suggesting the possibilities of a fungal infection, eczema, or chilblains, without being certain of the diagnosis.  She was also concerned because of the proximity of this outbreak to my gout episode, so she performed tests for lupus.  She recommended using athlete's foot medication and hydrocortisone concurrently to alleviate the symptoms.

Although no diagnosis was ever made, the problem cleared up after a few weeks during which I followed my doctor's orders and also wrapped my toes loosely in rolled cotton to reduce itching caused by friction.  The disappearance of my symptoms also correlated with an improvement in the weather if I recall correctly.

Since that time, I have had a few minor outbreaks of glistening red, itchy toes, but nothing major... until this winter, that is.

Starting at around the same time as the first outbreak (early January), the redness, intermittent swelling, and itchiness returned, but with the addition of blueness and small hives, which I had only seen four years before with the initial occurrence.  I was out of my usual treatment (athlete's foot spray), so I decided to see a dermatologist to try and best direct my energy and resources toward relief.  At my appointment, the signs appeared mild, and the dermatologist thought it was a minor skin irritation or allergy.  In the days that followed, the signs and symptoms got much worse, especially the swelling and small hives.  I tried finding ways to alleviate the symptoms, the best of which was icing my toes (although I know now this was probably not a good idea).

The next week, I saw an internist.  She was confused, ran gout tests, did extensive blood work, and ordered x-rays, ultimately referring me to a podiatrist.  When she failed to follow up with me at all, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and focus fully on relief.

For the past 10 days or so, I have tried everything: hydrocortisone, athlete's foot spray, wrapping my toes loosely with rolled cotton, keeping my feet warm, keeping my feet cool, walking in the ocean, taking NSAID's.  So far, nothing has made a lasting impact on the itching, although the athlete's foot spray appeared to reduce the redness and swelling.  I have also developed a pea-sized, hard, flat, disc-like knot under the skin of one toe, which is gradually beginning to look more like a surface-level blister.

I'm awaiting my appointment at the podiatrist, but I am happy to have read this discussion because I feel much more educated and am almost certain I am suffering from chilblains.

To those who don't feel the environmental factors suggest this diagnosis, I wanted to mention that I lived in warm climates during both major outbreaks, and my current climate is rather dry (I lived in North Carolina the first time; I now reside in southern California).  I cannot correlate my outbreaks to any one experience of cooling and warming, and yet I suspect this happens to all of us quite frequently without our noticing.

I wish I had a good answer for the itching and burning - it sounds like we're all just doing our best to get through this, and I'm no exception.  I will say, my symptoms are terribly uncomfortable, and they have persisted for about five weeks now, with varying degrees of intensity.  You can do it!  (But, hey, if anybody comes up with a good solution, please do post immediately.)

I'm going to try keeping my feet warm now after reading this forum, even though that sounds so very uncomfortable.

WISH ME LUCK!
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I am also in SoCal and notice that anytime the weather gets below around 60 degrees (we're pretty soft here in SoCal!), the red, itchy toes start to appear.  A dermatologist has me trying Vanos cream but I'm not sure it works or not b/c once the weather warms up, the itchiness goes away, so I don't know if it's from the Vanos or the weather.

This winter, I started to wear socks all the time so that my feet won't go through big temperature changes.  This has seemed to help compared to last winter, but then again, I can't be sure because it was a lot colder here last year.

The only thing that consistently has helped is to spray some canola oil on my toes when they start to itch.  It relieves the symptoms but I sure would like to eliminate the cause.  I wonder - did people have itchy, red toes 20 years ago like we're all having here now?
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It all started on my middle toe, intense itching with the feeling of a lump under the skin. The whole toe felt strange, numb may not be the right word. Then there was a slight swelling along the base of the toe to the second toe. The doctor calls this a tendon inflammation and has ordered blood test. Now 1 week on, both toes have a huge blister on the top. I am in Jamaica and was in the second day of an exercise program when this thing started. Tried soaking in epsom salts which could have made the swelling and blisters worst.
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I just want to start by saying thank you to all of those who have posted here and made this thread popular.  Your stories are going to help a lot of people.  Also anyone new to reading this, read it ALL!!  So many stories!  You're not alone in your suffering!

gr99, It's been a relief to read your progress over the recent years.  I myself have had this type of condition a handful of times, but I never understood it.

At first anti-fungal creams and powders (Desinex, hydrocortisone, general brand foot powders/sprays) seemed to fend it off and within a week or two it was gone.  But last new years was the worst case ever and I could not resist the itch for fear of never sleeping again and breaking my teeth from clenching them.  So I scratched with towels and loved the temporary relief.  I found yet another combination of Kroger brand Anti-fungal cream and Zeasorb-AF powder that seemed to ease the itching on contact.  I thought I was cured.  Always washed my feet twice a day, dried thoroughly, and applied ointment and powder before socks go on, put powder in shoes, etc.

But what always concerned me was that all the stories of althete's foot talked about dry and cracked skin between toes.  I had red blisters on top and usually around the tips.  It wasn't adding up.  This winter it struck again.  Just one toe.  I did the althete's foot remedy route.  After a few weeks I thought it was on its way out.  Then a blister struck the toe next to it with a vengeance.  I instantly knew my days might be numbered before it spread throughout the rest of them and possibly on to my other foot.  My goal was to avoid scratching like last year at all costs.

So the drama continues and it gets worse.  I get to the point where I soak my toes in vinegar, recommended by my mom's discussions with other people, again under the impression it's athlete's foot.  Tonight I woke up (like usual when my body temp has warmed everything up nice and toasty) with burning, itchy, red swollen toes.  I instantly went for that hopeful vinegar.  After 20 minutes of no itch relief other than the cool sensation of the liquid, I felt entirely helpless and scratched the mess out of them with a towel, never my fingers.  Odd how after you scratch them everything swells up, but the itch subsides and doesn't come back for a while.  So in my desperation I went online with the goal of doing more research and scheduling an appointment with my doctor later in the day.  I punched into google "itchy blistering swollen toes" and this little thread was number one.

Circulation...chiblians.  I'd never heard of it.  Not even after 2 years of plugging in symptoms under the guise I had something else.  But one thing I do know.  I live in a relatively cold house, with a heater vent under my computer desk where I sit daily.  I tend to take the socks off sometimes after work and my feet get cold, or walk around in the morning for breakfast barefoot and my toes become ice cubes and I really look forward to that HOT shower to warm up all the extremities and start the day.  I am SO familiar with the extreme hot to cold all the time.  Thinking I had athlete's foot had me with my socks off all day so I had frozen feet, it's no wonder they weren't getting better!  I also, based on the description of Raynauds explained above, believe my mom has Raynauds: always getting numb white fingers at the least bit of cold temperatures.  My dad also has this blistering toe trouble, but it's usually in the summer.  He's a real fan of the hot tub too now that I think of it.

I plan to visit the doctor soon to have him check things out, share what I have learned tonight, and hopefully get some itch relief and preventative solutions prescribed.  I really was feeling hopeless.  I hope this thread continues to help many more people!  Expect to hear back from me, I want to have good news!!!
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oh, and forgot to mention, I'm female, 29 years old and live in Michigan, a good extreme climate state.  I don't go out a whole lot in the winter, but the house temperature is always fluctuating between the heater being on and off, and is generally always cold this time of year.  I'm 5'6" and 155 lbs and ALWAYS tend to be colder than most despite if I'm at work or at home, or someone else's house.  I'm cold, no one else ever is.  Maybe this is a bigger concern than just being a low muscle mass girl?  That was always my excuse.  Maybe the circulation thing is the culprit of that as well.  Anyway, more to come later!!
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The moment I saw the image on wiki of chiblians it made me cry  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilblains
That's exactly what my feet look like.  You have no idea how much this diagnosis means to me.  Sorry for dragging this out, still have yet to schedule a doctor's appointment.  It's just such a stressful and tormenting condition I can't help but be so grateful.
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I have had a similar problem for some time.

It is often associated with autoimmune diseases like Reynaud's, Crohn's/UC  and psoriasis.

To ANYONE reading this thread: Not all chilblains are caused by this (some are just caused by neglecting toe warmth). But if you already have some kind of an autoimmune condition, and these symptoms come back year after year... it might be time to have it looked at by a specialist.

I was diagnosed with Reynaud's and psoriasis. During the diagnosis, they discovered that I carry a  gene called HLA B27 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HLA-B27

I am now being looked at closely by a rheumatologist, because that gene is also associated with RA and spinal arthritis. Arthritis in the feet can often start with these annoying blisters. And then for some people (maybe after a few years of chilblains and itchy skin, the inflammation  eventually moves to the joints and destroys/damages them.

Not to alarm people, but blisters on the toes that come at winter and go away in the sunlight are a common component of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. So, you could get some help from steroids and medications which could suppress psoriasis symptoms.

The expression of the blisters is called a "flare"... and they won't subside until the flare (inflammation) dissipates on its own or is helped (by suppressing the immune system) along. You can provide yourself with secondary care. My physicians recommend as warm as you can stand it foot baths with salt water up to 3 times a day, keep feet dry - warm - avoid walking on blisters. And I have a prescription for a topical steroid to put on at night.

Currently, I am also on one of the strongest available immunosupressant therapies, Remicade. My insurance pays $30k a year. I pay about $200 per treatment (every other month via IV infussion in a clinic).

Don't neglect yourselves, see a physician. You may need medication to improve your circulation (which is what I am prescribed to help keep my toes from freezing and getting lesions... a calcium channel blocker, for winter months blood pressure medication).

It's a complex issue. Best to be looked at and monitored. None of these conditions have cures, but all have some effective treatments.

- UC, Reynauds, psoriasis, chilblain Vetran
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Well I never did end up going to the doctor.  I kept my feet warm the next day after posting while applying a hydro cortisone and taking IB Profen to keep the inflammation calm.  That night and the night after I slept soundly and the blisters calmed right down.  When I went to work and had to walk around all day with shoes on i just applied some generic foot powder to keep friction down.  I spared myself the costly doctor visit believing by the time my appointment arrived my toes would have cleared up entirely.  My toes have been back to normal for weeks now and I am very conscious now of their temperature.  Lets see if I can go for a another winter and avoid their presence altogether!  If they ever do show up again, I will go straight to the doctors to make sure there is no further underlying causes.  Good luck everyone!  Take care of your feet!
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Do you think your symptoms went away because the weather got warmer?  I find that when it gets down to around 60 (high) my symptoms start acting up, but when it gets warmer, the redness goes away.  I also think it might be related to stress but not sure.
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I have the exact same syptoms (symptoms) of itchy, red, pea sized blisters inbetween my toes. I came down with a fever, being extremley cold to the point I couldnt sleep and had to get up and have a hot shower. Then the next night I woke up to intensley itchy feet. The following night, blisters appeared. I also had two chillblain like red marks on my hands and one blister underneath my tounge. I am 25 and have been to two doctors in the last 2 days and I have finally been diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth today! It is usually found in toddlers however in recent years becoming more common among adults. Crazy I know.
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Thank you all for the thread - after trying some of the same remedies others tried, also without success, I went the possiblity that my symptoms were psoriasis related.  I wanted specifically to target the swelling which I thought could actually be a build up of overactive skin cell growth.  It's this overactive growth that can cause an itch, and the appearance of blister-like spots that resemble what you normally think of as blister but don't contain fluid.  

The pharmacy department at my local grocery store carried a product called Psoriasin Gel
http://www.alva-amco.com/psoriasin/psoriasin_gel.html .  
The itching stopped within 5 minutes of the first application, and by the second application I could see the redness and swelling diminishing.  By day two it was as if there was never a problem. I stopped using the gel at that point.   That was about a week and a half ago and still nothing visible!  

I don't know if what I was experiencing is the same as some of you have dealt with, but if this remedy could help just one person it would make my day!  (fine print - I don't work for the company that makes it, nor do I have any medical training)
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I have the same problem and just figured out that it is chilblains and not athlete's foot because the fungicidal creams have not helped and unexpectedly, the one thing that did give me relief was doing a shoulder stand at the gym this morning. Makes sense, now that I know the issue (in part) is poor circulation. For anyone out there suffering from this try shoulder stands to relieve the symptoms. It made the itchiness and pain go away for most of the day!
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Wow, I just looked up a picture of chilblains and that is EXACTLY what my toes look like.  Amazing, I have never heard of chilblains but what I read here makes perfect sense. My feet never feel cold, but I usually am barefoot in the house and even wear flip flops and go barefoot out in the snow. (not for long, but as long as you keep moving you can do it).  Then when I wear shoes, they get hot and itchy same with under the covers at night.  How come doctors don't seem to know about Chilblains???  can you post links on this site?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilblains
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hi HD, I don't think it relates to low muscle tone or feeling cold.  I am your same size, but muscular and very physically active.  I'm never cold.  What concerns me about this disease is that it is a circulatory disease.  Especially to see it in young and/or physcially fit active people is disconcerting.  I look forward to discussing this with my doctor (now that I know to see my regular doc not the dermatologist)
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A good description and photo at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilblains

Usually very painful to touch. Itch due to lower level of pain.

The remedy by ZooHome, Dec 15, 2007 06:46PM does work well.
"I have been desperate enough to pierce them with a needle an squeeze and from the larger ones lots of dark blood comes out but it's a bit different than normal blood and it feels better after and seems to heal more quickly most times. Not really suggesting that due to the risk of infection. Despite the fluid it's as was said no real sack to pierce but it does drain wen poked and squeezed."

Aseptic procedure: prevent infection at all cost by disinfecting toes and instruments before the treatment and keeping toes clean during healing time (minimum 48 hours). Always change socks and shoes daily. Shoes must have comfortable loose fit. Read more about general feet health.
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Greeting from the Southern hemisphere

I have been suffering from this condition since childhood. It not only affects my feet but also the tip of my ears and my hands in a lesser degree. In my immediate family my mother has the same condition.

The reason why am posting to this thread was to tell you that I have been chilblains free for the last 3 years and it only returned this winter.

My first reaction to this was "Dam I should have never quit smoking" (I quit in December of last year) but I don't think that was the reason.

Since their is no cure for chilblains I follow a few simple rules during winter months.

1. Keep feet warm at all cost !!!
By wearing wool socks and changing my socks regularly.

2. Keep away from any artificial heat source !!!  
This is very important and it has been mentioned before in the thread. I can not stress it enough.

3. Dont take a bath or shower
Ok maybe not very practical, but when I take a bath I do it with my feet outside the tub (sound as ridiculous as it looks) and try to avoid as much contact with the warm water as possible.

The reason why my chilblains made a repeat performance this year is because I broke rule 2. We experience a few cold days last week and I went out and got a heater. I tried to keep it away from my feet but to no avail.

While growing up my mother did not allow a heater in the house. Like they say mothers are always correct.

Luckily our winder months are short +- 3 months and relatively warm.  

My heart goes out to those that are not as fortunate !

May spring arrive early this year !!!!
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OK, now that it is starting to get colder, who here on this thread is starting to worry about the itchy red feet? I know I am!
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hi everyone,

I know that this is a pretty old thread however this link may help...

http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Pompholyx.htm
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I also got the same itchy toes and it comes back every winter. I don't think I have Chillblains... It's either that or it isn't that serious. I haven't experienced any blisters, but it is always itchy no matter what. Particularly after I come back from outside and take off my shoes. I try to go barefoot with flip-flops at home most of the time and that sometimes helps... I think I'll try to wear socks to see how it goes.
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I created this post a few years ago. I wish I could edit my original post to say: itchy toe hives and NOT blisters. I've never had a blister. They were swollen pink/red lumps anywhere in size from 2-10 mm in diameter and raised about 1-2 mm. They were NOT filled with liquid like a traditional blister. The skin tissue was simply swollen (and relatively hard) and the skin taught and sometimes shiny. A hive or lump is the best description and I'm still convinced they are Chilblains.

Please read ALL the posts for perspective as many have had exactly the same symptoms/experience as me while others seem to have unrelated medical issues. Collectively, you can gain valuable insight from all of them.

gr99
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I've researched a bunch of other sites on chilblains and saw a couple that said to use aloe vera. So, for the past couple of weeks, I've been using it and it's cleared up a lot of the redness and itching, so I'm hopeful.

You might want to give some aloe vera a try, fellow red-toed ones. I also bought some good WrightSocks that seem to help cool my feet and not let them get too hot in shoes. The search for a remedy goes on...
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i have had the same problem staretd last year and lasted for five months doctor diagnosed chilblains ..returned this year but more severe than last i suffer from reynauds also but usually only in my hands seen doctor this time he thinks i possibly have p.v.d and are currently waiting for the results back
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I found a cure for my chilblain problem after 4 years of living hell every winter. Docs are useless for one. I lost so much sleep. Swollen red toes, blue spots and bumps and blisters, itching, pain when touched...it was bad. I started to think what else has the same symptoms...hemorrhoids. What fixes them, preperationH. I tried PrepH on my toes, the cream version, and they stopped itching the first night. After only a few days my toes were coming back to normal. After a week, they are normal. I used it 3 times a day on my toes. Now if I feel any hint of it coming back I use the prepH and its stops. No more lost sleep. No more irritated toes. I needlessly suffered all those years when the answer was a few bucks at the local store.

It makes sense to me. The blood vessels are obviously getting messed up, blue spot and bumps of blue. The tissue gets inflamed, red swollen. Its also itchy and painful...all like hemorrhoids!

I think the medical community needs to look at this differently. They havent been able to fix it, they dont understand it, and I dont here of then trying preperationH!

Try it people, it cant hurt. It worked a miracle for me. I am normal again!
Prepreation H cream with:
Glycerin 14.4%
Phenylephrine HCl 0.25%
Pramoxine HCl 1%
White petrolatum 15%
I bought thee generic version. There are many types so look at the ingredients.
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THANK YOU - THANK YOU - CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH.  Had my first decent nights sleep last night and first day I could stand it and not go crazy. I googled itchy, swollen toes and came up with this site.  I read your advice about Prep H and had some unopened gel in the med cabinet.  It was almost instant relief.  I've had this for weeks just like the picture with the red toes.  Last night it moved to the second foot.  Like many I had treated it as atheletics foot and nothing worked.  Tried some prescribed cream and it didn't work.  Tried calamine lotion and it didn't work.  I wanted to chop my feet off.  Thanks for giving this 70 year old a decent nights sleep and itching relief with a simple remedy.  By the way I live in the Lake Tahoe area of California and have for 50 years. This was the first time I experience Chilblains.  You are a life saver.

V Granny
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I thought I had a bad rash then the itching got so much worse. I have actual blisters that can be popped and liquid continually comes out. When my feet are dry they are flaky and the top layer of skin can be peeled off. The itching is absolutely maddening. Tried caladryl but it makes my feet so dry they crack and bleed. Only thing that helps me even a little is a&d ointment or sometimes neosporin. Help!!!!!
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I've posted this back to gr99, mainly because I'm not sure exactly how this forum works and they were at the top.

I'm not sure if my post will be of any help to anybody either, but I just wanted to say thanks to everybody whom has posted. The itchy toes were driving me mad..they are also red and slightly swollen. It's the itch that is mainly driving me crazy. They only started 2 or 3 days ago, but I have had them in my past, though can't remember the exact circumstances. Factors that may affect me this time are: I quit smoking 2 weeks ago, I generally have low blood pressure (though haven't been to a doctor in couple of years so may have changed), I spend a lot of my day sat down in front of a computer, I am 44, I am not overweight (if anything I'm probably a little underweight), we have had some real cold nights over the last 2 or 3 days/nights. I live in NZ and it's the middle of winter, it never gets particularly cold where I am but, it can occassionaly hit freezing (though rarely) - I realise that may be cold to some, but I lived in Ireland and Britain before this and it was definitely colder there.

I have also noticed that I have several small red blotches on my arms and back of my hands, which may or may not be related. My toes itch like crazy. Other parts of me itch a little but not in the same place consistently  except for my toes. I bought some new socks recently and have been wearing them (they are very dark blue).

At one point it actually felt like there were minute insects running around inside my socks and eventually I got so crazy with it that I sprayed a bed-bug treatment (that one isn't supposed to spray on skin) onto one of my feet and toes and weirdly enough it stopped itching almost instantly, which made me think that it was some little bug that I can't see, but started itching again a few hours later.

So since reading this post this evening, I now at least have some possible answers but I'm still not sure why the spray worked and I still feel the occassional itch. However, I will now investigate chilblains, raynauds, hand foot and mouth and bad circulation. This is more information or hope than I had several hours ago and as I can already feel the itching returning I am eager to find some more long term solution than spraying them with poison...also I'm not sure if it's the poison or the cooling affect etc

Oh dear , that was a bit of a ramble, but basically I just want to say thank you for giving me things to try...and weirdly to know that others have itchy and red toes and are actively looking for solutions, makes me feel better at least mentally.
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I HAVE THE SAME THING,IT MAKES ME CRAZY, I NOT ONLY HAVE IT ON MY TOES, BUT ON MY HANDS AT THE SAME TIME... HAVE YOU FOUND ANYTHING THAT HELPS. PLEASE IT IS DRIVING ME INSANE
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After several winters of having some of the symptoms described above (no blisters but redness, itching, burning, some discoloration) , I finally asked Google and this thread popped up.  The problem usually effects my right big toe and to a lesser extent my left big toe.  In bad winters, the tips of my pointer and middle toes can be effected too. My two outermost toes have never been effected which I find odd because my pinky toes are basically non-functioning stubs (I cannot wiggle them and have no real muscle control over them - I suspect for me they are vestigial remnants like the appendix!).  I had been treating the inflammation as a fungal infection with anti-fungal cream but I realize now it probably wasn't the anti-fungal medication but most likely the cream itself that was soothing the burning and itching.  At least I now have an idea of what I am dealing with.
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Hi again, I posted in this thread back in 2010 and have had this condition for about five years now. After trying a number of different remedies over the past several years, I think I finally found something that works - gingko biloba.

It's only been just over a week since my symptoms started this year, but then I started taking 240mg of gingko biloba daily. After a few days, the itchy redness went away and now (knock on wood) my toes are back to summer normal.

I started taking gingko biloba after reading about how it's supposed to increase circulation. Has anyone else had success with this?
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Listen up, folks, because this is a doozy: A specifically nasty type of HPV.

It causes some or all of the following:
genital warts, cellulitis, hydrentis suppurativa, chilblains, athletes foot.

ALL ARE CONNECTED WITHIN YOURSELF.
THERE IS NO CURE.

Now you know. Sorry about ruining your day.
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I think I can help you all some!

I have had the same symptoms for about 4 years now. It happens every winter, small, itchy red spots that grow larger and swell and turn shiny and are very painful to touch! When I went to the doctor I mentioned chilbain and he said there is no way my feet have got THAT cold. He finally told me it was Raynauds disease and gave me a BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE just want people to see that! haha It doesn't cure it but seems to help. It helps dilate the vessels helping the blood to flow more freely....I also get them on my fingers as well. I take  my medicine (metroprolol Tartate) and keep my hands and feet warm and try to avoid temp changes. It is a pain in my butt but I am glad to see I am not the only one with this problem.
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I too have the problem of blistering/itching toes in winter only.  Doctor said Chilbains.  Gave me medication to open vessels in feet.  No help.  Does help keep my toes and fingers from freezing so fast in cold weather.  My wife washed all my socks in vinegar thinking possibly the detergent was the problem.  No help.  Benadryl works.  After trying all the suggestions offered
I thought it had to be something like an allergy.  The Benadryl relieves the itching and eliminates the blisters.  As long as I take the Benadryl, no problem.  Hope this works for others..
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I have had these symptons for over 30 years. Winter time only. Relief - sticking toes in snow or ice cold water - relief but not a cure. In the 80's a doctor in Wyo. told me "in texas, we call this hoof rot". He gave me a perscription for a spray. 100% effective. I moved, used up the spray, and threw it away. I've told other doctors about this Wy. doctor jokingly making the comment about "Texas hoof rot" and the spray. Not one doctor can figure out what this spray was. It truly worked for me for years and I am still upset I did not keep that perscription bottle of spray. If anyone goes to a doctor - please ask them about "texas hoof rot" as someone, somewhere, will know what this pertains to. I remember this spray was cold, white, and dried my toes out and was in a very small container. So I know that there is help out there, just need to find it! I'm going to read up on Chilblains, no matter what - that spray worked!
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I've recently experienced this on one toe; it's excruciating!  Came to the conclusion it was chilblains as well.  I found great relief from the pain and itching by wrapping my toe in a tissue drenched with witch hazel, put a sock over it and wore it around all day like that.  I applied it anew last night and this morning when I woke up it was gone!!

Witch hazel!
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I have also been using witch hazel and getting pretty good results. It seems to calm down the itching fairly quickly.
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Im having the same problem.  This has been going on for months and now my toes are swelling and look like sausages and my toenails are going funky and they partly fall off
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Several years ago I had been to the dermatologist about this very thing. I was treated for a fungal infection and prescribed Silver Sulfadiazine. My dermatologist was spot on. This stuff worked great. A little bit goes a long way, Dried up the blisters and they didn't itch or hurt. As with all medications there are risks and things that you cannot be allergic to so ask your physician if it is right for you. Being a fungal infection, you may want to consider get new socks and shoes as not to pass the fungus. I have heard that you can put your shoes in the deep freeze to kill fungus although I have never done this. It has been years since I have been treated for this but the problem has returned. Time to see my dermatologist again. Hopefully someone gets some use out of this.  Definitely worth asking your doctor about.
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