3 Ways the Cold Can Affect Your Toes


Wintertime in Cuyahoga County can gift us with some truly beautiful scenes. The snow drifts down, kids rejoice in snow days off from school, and if we’re lucky, hot beverages in warm homes keep us safe and snug. But when you have to venture outside into the freezing temps, our advice from Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland is to watch out for problems with your feet.

Cold weather affects your toes fast. When your body’s exposed to cold, your blood vessels automatically constrict, especially in those places located the furthest away from the heart – like your fingers and toes. Constricted blood vessels mean those areas of the body aren’t getting as much oxygen-rich blood. If you must be out in the cold for an extended period of time, be aware of these three ways your toes can suffer from lack of circulation:


Frostbite is quite literally frozen skin. You might think Frostbite is superficial, affecting the first few layers of skin. But it can also reach deeper, freezing and threatening underlying tissues, muscles, and even bones.


Chilblains are small, red bumps. They can become itchy and swollen, and cause the surrounding skin to dry out and crack. If ignored, the blister-like lesions can become infected.


Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon as it’s sometimes called, occurs in people who experience vasospams in their fingers and toes as a result of the cold. Toes turn numb and lose their natural color, turning white or blue. Unlike frostbite and chilblains, Raynaud’s can occur anytime a person feels cold (even indoors or in summertime) or stressed.


Frostbite and chilblains are more likely to affect the very young, the very old, and anyone who’s got problems with circulation, including those with diabetes. You can prevent these conditions by wearing warm socks, keeping your feet dry, and limiting your time in the extreme cold. If you experience discoloration or numbness in your toes, get to a warm place. Get medical help immediately if symptoms persist. Call Dr. Meghan L. Oltmann or Dr. Craig B. Frey at (440) 903-1041 for an appointment at our office in Solon, Ohio. You can also contact us online.