Red, itchy, painful swellings on fingers and toes at this time of year are commonly chilblains. They are associated with constriction of small blood vessels causing insufficient blood flow to the extremities and are therefore more likely in cold weather. People with poor circulation are more prone to chilblains but they generally happen to otherwise healthy people.
Herbs can be applied topically or taken orally to help prevent or aid healing of chilblains.
Spices such as chilli (Capsicum minimum) and ginger (Zingiber officinalis) taken orally or applied topically to unbroken skin can help stimulate circulation which may help to prevent chilblains and also aid healing which is reduced if circulation is poor.
Skin over chilblains may crack and healing is therefore very important to prevent infection. In addition to ensuring that circulation is adequate for good healing, topical applications of healing herbs such as marigold (Calendula officinalis), chamomile (Matricaria recucita) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) all help.