Do you feel like your hands are always cold, even if the rest of your body feels fine? While cold hands are normal when the AC is on blast or if it’s wintertime, if you feel like your hands are constantly cold and turning up the thermostat or putting on gloves doesn’t work, it can indicate a circulation issue.
If you frequently find that your fingers are numb, you have hand pain and a frequent icy sensation, Cleveland Clinic says that it can be caused by a lack of blood flow. In cold temperatures, it’s a normal bodily response. It’s also a standard response during a fever — especially in kids. When a child’s body fights a virus, blood is carried to the infection, which can make the extremities cold. But in some cases, the response isn’t normal.
What is Raynaud’s Syndrome?
Frequently feeling cold can be caused by many different issues, including thyroid issues and anemia. However, if you’re noticing that it’s only happening in your hands or feet, it could be a phenomenon known as Raynaud’s syndrome. With this syndrome, the blood vessels in your hands constrict more than usual, which limits oxygen and blood flow.
You may also see a blue tint beneath the nail bed, and other people notice that their fingers become white and turn numb. When the hands do become circulated again, they often feel burning hot and turn a bright shade of red. In other cases, less blood is circulated to the knees, nose, or toes, so that might be a problem area for sufferers as well.
What causes Raynaud’s Syndrome?
This odd circulation problem is often genetic, but there are other factors to consider as well. Sometimes, it’s a sign of another issue, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Other times, the phenomenon is triggered by chronic stress or too much time in extremely cold temperatures. Women are more at risk for contracting Raynaud than men.
Essentially, your arteries in the extremities narrow, briefly limiting blood supply when you’re exposed to these temperatures or stressful situations. Over time, these tiny arteries tend to thicken, which limits blood flow even more.
Pin-pointing the cause yourself can be difficult — especially if you find yourself in a Google black hole. If your hands constantly feel cold, consider visiting your doctor to rule out other potential issues that could be causing the issue. Beyond that, keep layering up when you go outside, staying as active as possible, and busting stress with natural methods like exercise and eating right.
Diseases that commonly are linked with Raynaud’s often include connective tissue or autoimmune issues such as:
- Blood disorders
- Thyroid disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Buerger disease
- Sjögren syndrome
- Pulmonary hypertension
There is primary Raynaud’s which is the most common type and begins between ages 15-25, and secondary Raynaud’s. With the primary form, people usually don’t develop related conditions, and it’s even sometimes resolved on its own. Secondary tends to be more serious, and usually happens around age 40.
What are the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon?
- Fingers turn pale/white, then blue during cold, stressful, or emotional periods.
- The color changes in your skin as a response to stress/cold
3. You get a stinging pain or numb/prickly feeling when your stress is relieved or when your extremities finally warm up.
4. Hands turn red when they’re warmed
5. Sores develop on the finger pads
Signs you’re at risk of developing Raynaud’s
As with many medical issues, some people are more at risk than others.
- If you smoke cigarettes
- If you repeat repetitive actions like typing or using vibrating tools
- If you’re on a medication that has certain side effects
- Exposure to chemicals
- Anyone suffering from an autoimmune/connective tissue disease like the ones listed above.
- Those who live in very cold climates
- Anyone with a family history
How Raynaud’s is treated
This depends on a range of factors, like what form of the disorder you have, your symptoms, age, and overall health. While there’s not an official cure, there are treatments that allow it to be properly managed. Here are some of the treatments that a professional may approach you with:
- Avoiding cold exposure
- Staying bundled up with hats, gloves, socks and scarves
- Reducing or quitting smoking
- Wearing finger guards if sores are an issue
- Avoiding the use of vibrating tools and any hand-related trauma
- Blood pressure medicine during certain seasons to reduce blood vessel constriction