By Medicover Hospitals / 9 Feb 2021
Cold hands can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism - an underactive thyroid gland can make it difficult for a person to tolerate the cold. Conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and lupus, are associated with it.
- What is Cold Hands?
- Home Remedies
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is Cold Hands?
Some people have colder hands and feet naturally, without an underlying condition. It is a fairly common condition. You will only need to take special precautions in cold weather to protect them when your hands and feet naturally get cold. Cold hands may arise from exposure to cold. Like the sense of cold in the feet, problems with the circulation of the hands or with the nervous system can also cause cold hands. Some forms of thyroid disease can also cause cold hands and feet. At all times, having cold hands usually occurs due to reduced blood flow to the hands. Our bodies mainly keep our hands warm by controlling the flow of blood that goes from the heart, down the arm, and to the fingertips. More blood on the hands means pink and warmer hands; colder and often painful hands mean less blood flow.
Anemia is a condition in which you have fewer healthy and functioning red blood cells than normal. It is caused by iron deficiency. When you are deficient in iron, your red blood cells may not have enough hemoglobin (a protein-rich in iron) to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Cold fingers and toes could be the outcome.
It is a rather abnormal narrowing of the blood vessels that constrict with the cooling of the fingers or toes. It produces a temporary constriction or narrowing of the blood vessels, which is called vasospasm. The fingers and hands are usually affected. The toes are also affected in about 40 percent of instances. Raynaud's disease can only affect one or two fingers or toes. At different times, it can impact various parts of the body.
These are some of the causes of secondary Raynaud's:
Other causes of secondary Raynaud's disease can include:
- Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes hardening of the skin, often accompanied by Raynaud's disease.
- Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is another autoimmune disease that can cause Raynaud's disease.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes numbness and weakness in the hand because of entrapment of the median nerve, is often accompanied by Raynaud's syndrome.
- Repetitive movements: repetitive movements associated with writing or playing a musical instrument for long periods can be a factor. Using vibrating power tools, such as a drill or jackhammer, can trigger seizures.
- Hand injuries: Hand injuries caused by accident, surgery, or frostbite.
- Use of some chemicals in the workplace, such as vinyl chloride.
- Medication use: Some medications related to secondary Raynaud's are chemotherapy agents, birth control pills, over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, and beta-blockers to treat hypertension. Other medications include narcotics, ergotamine-containing migraine medications, and diet pills.
- Poor blood circulation is a symptom of diabetes, especially in the extremities, which can make the hands and feet cold.
- Diabetes also increases the risk of heart disease and narrowing of the arteries, both of which can contribute to cold hands and feet.
- Nerve damage, especially in the feet, is a complication of diabetes. It is caused by high blood sugar levels for a long time. One of the first symptoms is a "tingling" sensation in the feet or hands.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD):
When plaque (a fatty substance) builds upon the walls of the arteries, it can become blocked and cause cold hands and feet. PAD occurs most often in adults 50 years of age and older. Those who have diabetes or smoke are at higher risk.
An underactive thyroid gland can make it difficult for a person to tolerate a cold. Such disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and lupus, are associated with it.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency:
A deficiency in vitamin B-12 can lead to neurological symptoms, such as cold hands and feet, numbness, or tingling.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history, including injuries, accidents, or surgeries involving the hands or fingers. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. If not, other specialists (such as a rheumatologist, a hematologist, or an oncologist) determine if you might have a cold-related systemic hand disease. Toes and nails to detect abnormalities. Some tests involved in primary and secondary Raynaud's diagnosis include:
Cold stimulation test:A small device is attached to the fingers to measure their response to changes in temperature. Hands, mostly by immersing them in ice water, exposed to cold. The unit detects how long the fingers take to return to their usual temperature.
Capillaroscopy of the nail fold:A drop of oil is placed at the base of the nail before it is examined under a microscope. If the arteries appear abnormal, it could indicate a disease such as scleroderma.
Analysis of Blood can perform blood tests to look for other conditions and causes of secondary Raynaud's disease or rule out other conditions.
Treatment will depend on the underlying illness or disorder. There is no way to avoid or cure Raynaud's primary disease. However, the number or severity of attacks can be reduced by adopting certain lifestyle changes or by taking various medications.
In the case of secondary Raynaud's disease, the underlying cause needs to be determined before it can be treated.
Treatment for cold hands or related illnesses may include:
- Add activities that are helpful for blood flow
- Proper hand hygiene and skin care
- Wear the appropriate warm and protective hand gear
- Steroid injections
- Limit or avoid the use of tobacco products
- Avoid sudden temperature changes
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcoholic beverages
- Protect your hands and feet from injuries, including cuts and bruises
- Avoid caffeinated drinks
When to visit a Doctor?
If your hands and feet are cold all the time, regardless of the weather outside or the surrounding temperature, see your doctor. An underlying disease or disorder that needs to be treated can exist.
Your doctor should check to see if your cold hands are affected by a nerve or blood circulation problem.
Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of your cold hands. Your doctor can prescribe lifestyle changes to help improve the symptoms, depending on your condition.
Signs that indicate a doctor visit may be necessary include:
- Pain in the hands and fingers that occurs many times a day, for several days.
- Changes in skin color. Fingers may appear white, blue, or purplish.
- Thickening or stretching of the skin.
- Tingling, throbbing, numbness, or burning sensations when blood flow resumes. The skin may appear red.
- Changes in the appearance of the nails.
- Cracks or sores on the fingertips that are difficult to fit.
- Consider clothing options: In cold weather, wear a hat, gloves, warm socks, and a warm coat. Wear layers to keep your core warm and don't wear tight clothing. Some people find a turtleneck or scarf helpful to keep warm. For children, make sure they are well dressed and should come inside if they feel cold or if their hands or feet get cold.
- Wear socks or slippers: Wear a sweater and warm socks if you are cold inside.
- Exercise every day: Exercise every day, including walking, to improve blood circulation.
- Do a quick warm-up: Try doing jumps to get your blood moving. March in place while sitting. Wiggle your toes and circle your feet. Circle the air with each finger if they are stiff. Make wide circles in the air with your arms to stimulate blood flow.
- Move regularly: Take the time to get up at least every half hour to stretch or walk.
- Use an electric heating pad: Electric heating pads come in various sizes and types for different parts of your body that you can use. For feet, use a heating pad on the lower back. Use a heating pad on key places like your lower back and feet while relaxing at night. This can help your blood vessels open and allow more blood to flow to your legs.
- Hold something warm: Hold a hot drink in your hands
- Quick massage: Vigorously massage your hands or feet.
- Keep heaters within reach: Use commercial single-use or reusable hand or foot warmers when outside in the cold. LL Bean sells heaters that last 8 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Cold hands can be due to poor blood flow and circulation, which can prevent blood from efficiently reaching the extremities. Poor circulation in the hands can be due to underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, blood clots, and Raynaud's disease.
In a large range of medical conditions, these symptoms are present. These symptoms can be related to the skin or blood, such as excessive exposure to cold, narrow blood vessels, or even an infection
If your blood pressure drops too low, your body directs blood away from your extremities and toward critical organs at your core.
Cambridge - https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics/article/feeling-of-cold-hands-and-feet-is-a-highly-heritable-phenotype/321951AA99DEFC20E836AB6BD4D55047#
Science Direct - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673601053442
T&F online - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23328940.2015.1008890