Why Do We Have Cold Feet and Hands?



Are your feet cold despite the three pairs of socks you put on?  Having cold extremities, the hands and feet, is a common phenomenon. It is a mild issue in most cases and can occur even when the surrounding air is not cold.

This annoyance, which mainly affects women, has several explanations.

The cooling of the hands and feet is chiefly caused by a decrease in blood circulation in these body parts. A lower blood circulation leads to less heat. 

Like the hands, the feet are located at the ends of the body, away from the heart that powers all the organs. However, when it is cold, the body primarily directs blood to the vital organs, partly leaving the peripheral organs. 

In addition, to keep maximum heat, the arteries closest to the skin are tightened, which is called vasoconstriction. In some people with poor circulation, this phenomenon occurs even when it is relatively hot. 

Some causes can be more dangerous, however. If the cold feet and hands continue and the fingers of the extremities change color, this can be a warning sign: the nerves could be damaged  or maybe a tissue is weakened. It is hence important to visit a doctor who can determine an correct diagnosis and treat this problem as best as possible.

Other causes that can cause cold feet:

  • Raynaud’s syndrome (chronic blood circulation disorder);
  • hypothyroidism (slower metabolism);
  • diabetes (nerve damage in the feet);
  • hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating);
  • peripheral arterial disease (narrowing of the arteries by atherosclerosis or stenosis);
  • smoking (poor blood oxygenation);
  • excessive sedentary lifestyle.

Some of the symptoms associated with the coldness in hands and feet include:

  • change in skin color, blue or white
  • numbness, tingling
  • wounds or blisters
  • hardening of the skin

Why do women have cold feet?

Women suffer more from circulation problems. Raynaud’s syndrome affects women twice as much as men, for example. On the other hand, they have proportionately less muscle mass. However, it is the muscles that produce heat. The fat protects the body well against the cold, but there is little fat on the feet.

What are the solutions for treating cold hands and feet?

Solutions to relieve the feeling of cold hands and feet are dependent on the cause. It is therefore advisable to consult a doctor to obtain the appropriate treatments.

Note that if it is just cold, it is advisable to reactivate the blood circulation by actively moving, to immerse the hands and feet in lukewarm water (not too hot to avoid burns).

Outside :

  • apply an anti-cold cream before going out;
  • wear warm socks that wick away perspiration (cotton, wool);
  • wear battery operated socks  to keep your feet warm for hours
  • wear insulating insoles;
  • put on a hat: the head is an important source of heat loss;
  • avoid sudden changes in temperature.

Inside :

  • regularly move the feet to boost blood circulation: for example, roll a tennis ball under the foot;
  • make a foot bath (maximum 36° C);
  • drink a hot drink;
  • put a hot water bottle on the feet (not too hot).

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