Cold Fingers and Toes
No matter what the weather is, some of us always seem to suffer from chronically cold fingers and toes. Icy extremities can be annoying (I know,I’m there all the time:thick, scratchy wool socks-itchy ouch…).
Rather than settle for pat answers like “cold hands- warm heart” ,or the idea that you might have poor circulation, we found the common causes for cold digits and when they might be cause for concern.
What’s The Cause?
As it turns out, poor circulation is not the cause of cold fingers and toes.When you have poor circulation, your skin actually gets red,not white or blue. The tiny little blood vessels in the feet and hands are trying to pull as much blood as possible there, so they’re completely vaso-dialated-meaning your blood vessels have widened to their full capacity, allowing them to take in the maximum amount of blood.
Although cold tolerance is different for everyone, for the most part, it’s completely normal for your hands and feet to feel the freeze first when you’re in the cold. It’s part of your natural physiology and method for regulating body temperature.
Your body temp is controlled by the hypothalamus, the thermostat in your brain. When you’re exposed to cold, your body pulls blood away from your skin in closer to your core. As the blood and accompanying heat rush to warm your vital organs, your extremities are left cold.
Could It Be Something More?
Yes, experts say. Super-cold extremities(such as fingers and toes) could be a symptom of Raynaud’s disease ,a medical condition that causes an extra sensitivity to cold.
It is more common in women and people living in cold climates exposed to cold temps.The blood vessels in the hands and feet close. This causes the extremities to first turn white, then blue. As you warm up, your skin may feel prickly or tingly and turn red.It most commonly occurs in fingers and toes, but may also affect lips, ears, noses, or even nipples.
If you start to experience numbness, it could indicate another underlying cause ,so see a medical professional ASAP. Numbness is more concerning from a neurological component.That could be due to diabetes or peripheral neuropathy,a condition that leaves your extremities less sensitive to touch.
If you have really cold hands and cold feet in conjunction with other signs like hair loss or changes in your skin, that might signal a real problem with circulation. And ,if one particular extremity (think one foot or a few fingers) seems to be suffering from the chills more often than others, that could be a sign of a more serious circulation problem or blood clot.
What To Do
The best thing one can do is try and avoid the triggers like cold and repetitive motions or vibration. If you can’t avoid being out in the cold, make sure you’re layering up and not exposing your bare skin to the cold air.
Wearing warm gloves is your best bet-keeping your hands in pockets could lead to a potentially serious injury if you trip on slippery ice!). Also avoid sudden changes in body temperature.
In more drastic cases or when triggers can’t be avoided, there are more extreme solutions. The nerves that cause the blood vessels in your fingers and toes to constrict can be cut to prevent the body’s natural response to the cold,but that’s pretty rare.
As for me, I’ll be content with my fuzzy sleepers and socks!
How about you?