Why Are My Hands Cold All the Time?

Why Are My Hands Cold All the Time?

As temperatures begin to drop and we break out the hats, gloves and scarves, it's normal to have cold hands and cold feet. But when does it stop being normal and start becoming worrisome? Here are 5 signs that you may have a cold hand disease:

  1. Your hands are cold all the time, even in mild weather.
  2. Your hands feel painful in colder temperatures, even without being exposed for a long time.
  3. You need to wear gloves when handling frozen foods or even a cold drink.
  4. Your hands turn a white, blue a red color sometimes.
  5. When you get a cut on your finger, it can take a long time to heal.

A cold hand disease, most commonly Raynaud's disease, can occur in people who have decreased blood flow to their hands. Those with normal blood flow will have pink, warm hands. Those with decreased blood flow will sometimes have white, blue or red cold hands that can be painful. More technically, a cold hand disease can be caused by:

  • Vasoconstriction: This is when the muscles around the major arteries of the body apply pressure to the arteries for too long. It will cause the fingers to turn blue (a process called cyanosis), and then red as they warm up again. This process can be painful.
  • Vaso-occlusion: This happens when one or more of the blood vessels in the hand or wrist become blocked.
  • Diseases of blood vessels: A disease like this can cause both vasoconstriction and vaso-occlusion. 

If you have cold hands and are experiencing any of the symptoms above, visit a hand specialist right away. If you delay treatment and suffer from loss of blood flow too often, it can cause necrosis, which can turn your fingertips black. Your hand surgeon will evaluate your hands and may recommend that you visit another type of specialist, depending on your symptoms. If you have a cold hand disease, your doctor may recommend medication, a cortisone shot, surgery, or simple modifications like wearing protective hand gear.

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