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Cold Hands – 7 Possible Causes, Associated Symptoms & When To See The Doctor

cold hands

Cold hands are a typical occurrence. Spending time outside in cold weather or in an air-conditioned environment indoors can make your hands feel cold for a short period of time. Taking objects out of the refrigerator or freezer, or soaking your hands in cold water, might make your hands feel cold.

Cold hands that don’t go away, especially if the skin tone changes, could be an indication of nerve injury, blood flow issues, or tissue damage in the hands or fingers. If you’re outside in very cold weather and have cold hands, for example, skin color changes could be a symptom of frostbite.

You may have a disease or condition that restricts blood flow to the hands if your hands feel cold even in warm or mild conditions, or if they take a long time to warm up after being exposed to the cold.

Associated Symptoms of Cold Hands

Cold hands may be associated with the following symptoms:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Changes to the color of the skin on your hands, such as blue or white skin
  • Cold feet or toes
  • Open sores or blisters
  • Tightened or hardened skin

Causes of Cold Hands

Causes of cold hands range from cold weather to circulatory conditions and nerve diseases. Common causes of cold hands include:

Cold temperature

One of the body’s natural responses to cooler temperatures is cold hands. Blood vessels in the limbs contract as the body enters a colder environment. This reduces blood flow to these places, as well as the amount of heat lost by the body.

Because the extremities are the regions of the body farthest from the crucial organs, limiting blood flow to them also helps keep the vital organs warm and blood flowing. Reduced blood flow can lead to a loss of oxygen in the tissues, causing them to turn bluish over time. These symptoms are usually not serious when they are only transient, and the body will return to normal once it warms up again.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon occurs when a person’s blood circulation is restricted due to very low temperatures or severe stress, resulting in chilly or numb fingers and toes. It causes vasospasm, which is a transient constriction or narrowing of the blood vessels.

The fingers and hands are usually affected. The toes are also impacted in roughly 40% of instances. Only one or two fingers or toes may be affected by Raynaud’s. At different periods, it may affect different sections of the body.


Cold hands can also be caused by a high level of stress or anxiety. The release of adrenaline into the bloodstream is one of the body’s natural responses to stress or anxiety.

Adrenaline causes the blood arteries in the periphery to constrict as it circulates, reducing the flow of blood to the body’s extremities. This mechanism conserves energy and prepares for any potential bodily harm caused by the high-stress environment.

The modern world is full of stressors, but few of them pose an immediate threat to the body, so this protective response may be more damaging than beneficial if it causes the feet or hands to get cold on a frequent basis. In some circumstances, reducing stress and tension may assist to alleviate symptoms.


Anemia is a condition in which a person’s body has an insufficient number of normal red blood cells. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as iron, vitamin B12, or folate deficit, or chronic renal disease.

Cold hands can occur in moderate to severe cases of anemia. Anemia usually responds well to dietary and supplement adjustments. Anemia should be diagnosed by a doctor and treated according to their instructions.

Diabetes Mellitus

High blood sugar levels on a regular basis can restrict arteries and limit blood flow to the tissues, resulting in cold hands. Diabetes can cause diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which is a type of nerve injury in some people. Diabetic nerve injury occurs when a person’s blood sugar level is uncontrolled and high for an extended length of time.

Tingling or prickling sensations, numbness, or scorching pain in the feet and legs are also signs of diabetic nerve injury. It’s possible that your symptoms will get worse at night.

Nerve disorders

Trauma or injury, such as severe frostbite, can cause nerve damage, as can an underlying medical condition.

Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors, including liver or kidney illness, infection, or heredity. Additional symptoms, such as numbness and tingling, are common. While waiting for a precise diagnosis, treating symptoms like cold hands might make a person feel better.


Hypothyroidism is characterized by a thyroid gland that is underactive and produces a low level of thyroid hormone, which affects the body’s metabolism.

Circulation, heartbeat, and body temperature are all affected by the body’s metabolism, therefore anything that impairs thyroid function and causes hypothyroidism might produce cold hands.

Hypothyroidism can make people more susceptible to the cold in general, as well as cause other symptoms including weariness, weight gain, and cognitive issues.

When To See The Doctor

If you have persistently cold hands, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can determine whether a problem with your blood flow or nerves is causing your cold hands. The goal of treatment is to get to the cause of the problem with your cold hands. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle adjustments to assist alleviate symptoms, depending on your condition.


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