Do your hands and feet always feel cold for no reason? Our bodies constantly try to regulate our internal temperature, and sometimes, you might feel colder in certain parts of your body, even when you are in a warm environment.
Why Your Hands and Feet Are Always Cold
When your blood vessels constrict, or get smaller, less blood can flow through them. This constriction may make your hands and feet feel cold, even when the rest of your body feels warm or when you’re in a warm place.
There are many reasons why your hands and feet may always feel cold, such as:
- 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 a feeling of cold extremities. Because of this, smokers often say that their hands and feet are always cold.
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Diseases That Cause Cold Hands and Feet
Smoking also can lead to Buerger’s disease, 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 flow to your arms, legs, neck, and abdomen. In addition to cold hands and feet, PAD 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 is also 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?
A cold feeling in the hands or feet can be a sign of poor blood circulation.
People with heart failure may experience a cold feeling in their hands and feet 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 Worry About Cold Hands and Feet?
You should see a primary care doctor if you notice thickening or tightening of the skin on your hands and feet, which can cause sores and cracks on your fingertips or toes that might not heal. You should also see your doctor if you have cold hands and feet with a fever, joint pain, or rash.
What Can I Do to Warm My Hands and Feet?
Several ways to try to warm the hands and feet include:
- Avoiding all forms of tobacco and caffeine.
- Wearing gloves and warm socks when 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.