Having cold hands even when you're not in a cold environment is common. Often, having cold hands is a part of your body's natural response to regulate your body temperature and shouldn't be cause for concern.
But if you have persistently cold hands, particularly if accompanied by color changes, it could be a warning sign. For example, having cold hands could mean you have a problem with the nerves or blood circulation or a problem with tissue damage in your hands or fingers. If you are outside in extreme cold weather and you have cold hands, you should watch for warning signs of frostbite.
Other signs and symptoms to watch for when you have cold hands include:
- Cold feet or toes
- Changes to the color of the skin on your hands, such as blue or white skin
- Numbness or tingling
- Open sores or blisters
- Tightened or hardened skin
Although the cause of cold hands can be as simple as being in a cold environment or your body's natural response to maintain its normal temperature, if you have ongoing problems with cold hands, there could be a number of causes. Having cold hands could signal a problem with your blood circulation or the blood vessels in your hands.
Causes of cold hands include:
- Buerger's disease
- Raynaud's disease
Raynaud's disease is a vascular disorder that causes intermittent interruption of blood flow to the extremities. The affected body part may turn white or blue and feel cold and numb until circulation improves.
Superficial frostbite, as seen here on the tip of a finger, typically affects smaller, more exposed areas of the body, such as the fingers, feet, nose, ears and face.
In Buerger's disease, your blood vessels swell and can become blocked with blood clots (thrombi). This eventually damages or destroys skin tissues and may lead to infection and gangrene. Buerger's disease usually first shows in the hands and feet and may expand to affect larger areas of your arms and legs.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you're concerned about persistently cold hands. Your doctor can check if your cold hands are caused by a problem with your blood circulation or nerves. Treatment is aimed at the underlying cause of your cold hands. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help improve symptoms.
Last updated: February 7th, 2018