Are you frequently asking yourself, “Why are my hands and feet always cold?” You’re not alone. Lots of people have cold hands and feet for no apparent reason.
Our bodies constantly try to regulate our internal temperature, so sometimes you might feel colder in certain parts of the body – even when you’re in a warm environment.
Why Are My Hands Always Cold?
Sometimes, you might have cold hands and feet even though your body is warm.
When your blood vessels constrict – or get smaller – during blood circulation less blood can flow through them. This constriction may cause cold hands and feet, even when the rest of your body feels warm or when you’re in a warm place.
There are several reasons why your hands and feet may always feel cold, most are harmless, but others are more serious. Having cold hands or feet may indicate a symptom of:
- Buerger’s disease.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD).
- Primary Raynaud’s disease.
- Secondary Raynaud’s disease.
Does smoking cause cold hands and feet?
Tobacco constricts blood vessels, causing the feeling of cold extremities. Because of this effect, smokers often say that their hands and feet are always cold.
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What Deficiency Causes Cold Hands and Feet?
A number of conditions could be contributing to your cold feet and hands:
Buerger’s disease is a condition that can cause blood clots that lower the temperature in your hands and feet. While there is no specific cause for the disease, almost everyone who has Buerger’s uses some form of tobacco. Quitting all tobacco products is the only way to stop this disease.
Peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when plaque builds up in your artery walls, narrowing the arteries and decreasing the amount of blood circulation to your arms, legs, neck, and abdomen. In addition to cold hands and feet, PAD also can cause difficulty walking, painful foot ulcers, infections, and – in severe cases – gangrene or tissue death.
Primary Raynaud’s disease
Another possible reason for cold hands and feet is Raynaud’s disease. Primary Raynaud’s disease causes some arteries in parts of your body, like your hands and feet, to constrict in response to cold temperatures.
Women are more likely than men to have Raynaud’s disease. It also is more common in people who live in colder climates.
Treatment for primary Raynaud’s disease depends on its severity and whether you have other health conditions. For most people, Raynaud’s disease isn’t a serious condition, but it can affect quality of life.
In rare cases, Raynaud’s disease can be more serious, especially if you also have:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Secondary Raynaud’s disease
Usually affecting people around age 40, secondary Raynaud’s disease can cause an artery to become completely blocked. Sores or even dead tissue may develop in some areas, which can lead to gangrene that can be difficult to treat. If left untreated, your doctor may need to remove the affected area.
Are Cold Hands and Feet a Sign of Heart Problems?
Regularly having cold hands and feet can be a sign of poor blood circulation.
People with heart failure may experience cold feeling feet and hands as the body will prioritize getting blood to the brain and other vital organs over the extremities. This lack of blood flow results in a cold feeling in the arms, legs, hands, and feet.
When Should I See a Doctor About Cold Hands and Feet?
You should see a primary care provider if you notice thickening or tightening of the skin on your hands and feet. This thickening can cause sores and cracks on your fingertips or toes, which might not heal.
You also should see your provider if you have cold hands and feet with joint pain, a fever, or a rash.
How Do I Fix Cold Hands and Feet?
There are several ways to try to warm the hands and feet. They include:
- Avoiding all forms of tobacco and caffeine.
- Wearing gloves and warm socks in cold weather.
- Layering clothes to keep your body temperature up.
- Exercising and massaging the affected areas.
- Bringing any concerns to your doctor.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.