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Overview of Cold Hands: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention Tips

Team AckoApr 28, 2024

Body temperature regulation is a naturally occurring process. The human body attempts to keep the body warm during exceptionally cold winter weather by maintaining steady blood flow to the essential organs. Cold hands and feet could result from this blood flow variation. 

It is not unusual to experience cold hands even under mild weather conditions. It is not an indication of any underlying medical disease. Rather, it is a perfectly typical phenomenon.

But Cold Hands (CH), also known as Cold Hands syndrome, is a condition characterised by persistent coldness and discomfort in the hands. It can be a distressing and bothersome issue for many individuals, affecting their daily activities and overall quality of life. In this article, we will explore the definition, symptoms, causes, treatment options, and prevention tips for Cold Hands. So, let's dive in and gain a better understanding of this condition.





What is the meaning of Cold Hands? 

Cold Hands refer to a medical condition where an individual experiences an unusually cold sensation in their hands, which may persist for an extended period. The coldness may be accompanied by a feeling of numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands. While it is normal for hands to become cold in cold weather or due to temporary exposure to cold temperatures, individuals with CH experience persistent coldness even in normal conditions.

Symptoms of Cold Hands

Individuals with Cold Hands may experience various symptoms, which can vary in severity. Some common symptoms include the following.

  • Cold sensation: The hands feel significantly colder than the rest of the body or compared to others.

  • Numbness: A loss of sensation or reduced sensitivity in the hands.

  • Tingling sensation: A prickling or tingling feeling in the hands.

  • Discolouration: The hands may appear pale, bluish, or mottled due to poor blood circulation.

  • Pain or discomfort: Some individuals may experience pain, aching, or discomfort in the hands.

  • Reduced dexterity: CH can affect fine motor skills and make it challenging to perform tasks that require precise hand movements.

Causes of Cold Hands

Here are some common causes of Cold Hands.

  • Poor blood circulation: Inadequate blood flow to the hands is a primary cause of CH. Conditions such as Raynaud's disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD), and vasoconstriction can restrict blood flow to the hands, resulting in coldness and other associated symptoms.

  • Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland can lead to CH as it affects overall metabolism and blood circulation.

  • Anaemia: A low red blood cell count or insufficient haemoglobin levels can impact blood circulation, leading to CH.

  • Nerve damage: Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or nerve entrapment can disrupt proper nerve function, causing CH.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, can cause vasoconstriction and lead to CH as a side effect.

  • Autoimmune disorders: Conditions like lupus and scleroderma can affect blood vessels and lead to poor circulation in the hands, resulting in coldness.

Other Causes

Some serious causes behind cold hands can be the following:

Raynauds Disease

Raynaud's phenomenon is a disorder that frequently causes cold hands. This illness results in blood vessel narrowing, which lowers blood flow. Usually, it affects the toes and fingers.

This condition might be stand-alone. But at times, you may experience symptoms because of some other health issues. 

The exact cause of primary Raynaud's phenomenon is unknown. However, it affects women more frequently and usually manifests during adolescence. Additionally, this illness is frequently passed down by family members.

Numerous medical disorders might cause secondary Raynaud's syndrome, including:

  • Scleroderma: An autoimmune condition characterised by roughened skin

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disorder that affects the joints.

  • Sjögren's syndrome: A systemic autoimmune illness affecting the entire body

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Diseases related to blood clotting

  • Myositis inflammatory (inflammation of the muscles)

  • Lupus: An autoimmune condition that can cause rashes, as well as pain and inflammation in the muscles and joints

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: discomfort and numbness in the hand and fingers due to a compression of a nerve in the wrist

Secondary Raynaud’s syndrome can also occur as a side effect of the following medications:

  • Beta-blockers and other heart medicines

  • Chemotherapy drugs

  • Stimulants

  • Antidepressants

  • Sympathomimetics

  • Ergot alkaloids

  • Decongestants

  • Restasis

  • Dopaminergic agonists

Vascular Disease

The ulnar and radial arteries are present in the wrist to supply blood to your hands. Cold hands can result from disorders that impact these blood arteries or damage these structures.

Some reasons behind this condition include:

  • Trauma from cutting, compressing, or stretching blood vessels

  • Spasms in the walls of the blood vessels

  • Vascular malformations or defects

  • Tumours

  • Blood clot

  • Aneurysm

Apart from cold hands, this particular disease can induce the following symptoms

  • Numbness

  • Pain

  • Tinging

  • Swelling

  • Discoloured fingertips

  • Poor wound healing

Diagnostic Tests for Cold Hands

There is no particular test to identify chilly hands brought on by exposure to cold or primary Raynaud's phenomenon. After looking at your hands, your doctor will diagnose you based on the symptoms you described.

Blood testing for secondary Raynaud's phenomenon may be necessary. These tests include the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test and nailfold capillary microscopy, which searches the fingernails for microscopic blood vessels that frequently develop due to the disorder.

If you have cold hands due to vascular conditions, the following tests will help identify it:

  • Doppler ultrasound: It involves using sound waves to determine whether your blood vessels are narrow. 

  • Arteriography: It is a diagnostic test where a dye is injected into the blood vessels before performing an X-ray imaging test. 

  • MRA scan of blood vessels

  • Cold stress test: It helps evaluate blood pressure and the temperature of your fingers after and before placing them in cold water. 

Can Cold Hands Indicate Anaemia or Heart Disease?

Suffering from chilly hands is not typically a direct indication of either cardiac illness or low iron levels in the blood. However, both conditions can impact the circulation of blood throughout your body, including to your hands. So, it is plausible that they may impact the blood vessels in your hands and make them cold. 

Cardiac illness encompasses various problems that can affect the heart. When individuals talk about cardiac illness, they usually refer to the most prevalent type — coronary artery disease (CAD). Nevertheless, it is possible to experience issues with different components of the heart, such as the heart muscle, valves, or electrical system. 

Anaemia occurs when there is a deficiency of red blood cells or when the existing red blood cells do not function properly. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen is essential for powering cells and providing energy. Without healthy red blood cells fulfilling their role, the body lacks the energy required for proper functioning. 

If you experience new symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, exhaustion, or lightheadedness, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.

Treatment for Cold Hands

The treatment for Cold Hands aims to improve blood circulation and provide relief from the associated symptoms. The approach may vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common treatment options.

  • Lifestyle modifications: Making certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate CH. It is advisable to keep the hands warm by wearing gloves or using hand warmers in cold weather. Regular exercise, especially activities that promote cardiovascular health, can improve blood circulation. Avoiding smoking and managing stress levels are also beneficial.

  • Medications: In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications to improve blood circulation or address underlying conditions contributing to CH. These may include vasodilators, calcium channel blockers, or medications to regulate thyroid function.

  • Therapy: Physical therapy or occupational therapy can help improve hand strength and dexterity, enabling individuals to better manage CH.

  • Surgical intervention: In severe cases or when other treatment options fail to provide relief, surgical procedures like sympathectomy or nerve decompression may be considered. These interventions aim to improve blood flow and alleviate symptoms.

Treatment for Raynaud’s Syndrome

No specific medicine is available for Raynaud's syndrome treatment. But, calcium channel blockers for treating high blood pressure can be quite effective. These pills can reduce the severity and frequency of this condition. 

Some lifestyle changes that can be beneficial for individuals with this disease include the following:

  • Dressing in multiple layers during the cold weather

  • Wearing gloves 

  • Avoiding smoking

  • Avoiding OTC decongestants

  • Getting medical advice regarding medication alternatives to the ones that trigger cold hands

Treatment for Vascular Disease

Cold hands from vascular disease need to be treated according to its intensity. Some common treatment methods include:

  • Medicines

  • Surgery

  • Pressure garments

Treatment is not necessary when the nearby vessels carry blood to the affected site. 

Prevention tips for Cold Hands

Preventing Cold Hands involves adopting certain habits and precautions to maintain optimal hand temperature and blood circulation. Here are some useful prevention tips.

  • Dress appropriately: Wear warm clothing, including gloves or mittens, during cold weather to protect your hands from the cold.

  • Keep moving: Regularly move your hands and fingers to promote blood circulation.

  • Manage stress: Stress can contribute to vasoconstriction. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.

  • Stay active: Regular physical exercise promotes overall cardiovascular health and can help improve blood circulation.

  • Avoid smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and impairs circulation. Quitting smoking can have a positive impact on hand circulation.

  • Stay warm: When indoors, ensure the temperature is comfortable, and consider using hand warmers or heated blankets if necessary.

What is the prognosis of Cold Hands?

The prognosis for Cold Hands largely depends on the underlying cause and the effectiveness of the treatment. In many cases, with proper management and lifestyle modifications, individuals can experience significant improvement in their symptoms and quality of life. However, for some individuals with chronic conditions or severe cases, complete resolution of CH may not be achievable.

It is important to note that CH can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying health condition that may require ongoing medical attention. Therefore, seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment is crucial for managing the condition effectively and improving the prognosis.

Cold Hands: What’s normal and what’s not?

When it comes to CH, it's important to understand what is considered normal and what may indicate an underlying issue. Here's a breakdown of what to expect:


  • Coldness in cold weather: It's normal for your hands to feel cold when exposed to chilly temperatures. Your body's natural response is to reduce blood flow to the extremities to preserve heat in the core.

  • Temporary coldness: Brief exposure to cold conditions, such as holding a cold object or being in an air-conditioned room, can cause temporary CH. Once you warm up or remove the cold stimulus, your hands should return to a normal temperature.

Not normal

  • Persistent coldness: If your hands constantly feel excessively cold, even in normal temperatures or when others around you are comfortable, it may indicate an underlying issue.

  • Numbness or tingling: CH accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations could be a sign of nerve-related problems or poor blood circulation.

  • Colour changes: If your hands appear pale, bluish, or mottled, it may suggest insufficient blood flow or a condition like Raynaud's disease.

  • Pain or discomfort: Cold Hands that are accompanied by pain, aching, or discomfort should be evaluated by a healthcare professional, as it could indicate an underlying condition.

  • Impaired function: Cold Hands that affect your ability to perform daily tasks or interfere with fine motor skills should be addressed, as they may indicate an issue that requires attention.

Also read about: ABHA ID creation

When to see a doctor for Cold Hands?

Here are some indications that you should consult a healthcare professional for Cold Hands. 

  • Persistent and unexplained CH: If your hands constantly feel excessively cold, even in warm environments, or if the coldness persists for an extended period without an apparent cause, it's advisable to seek medical advice.

  • Severe pain or discomfort: If you experience intense pain, significant discomfort, or if the CH interferes with your daily activities or quality of life, it's important to consult a doctor to identify the underlying cause and explore appropriate treatment options.

  • Changes in colour or texture: If your hands exhibit unusual colour changes, such as turning pale, bluish, or mottled, or if there are accompanying skin texture changes, it could indicate a circulation problem or an underlying condition that requires medical attention.

  • Numbness or tingling sensations: If you frequently experience numbness or tingling in your hands along with coldness, it may be a sign of nerve-related issues or poor blood circulation, necessitating a professional evaluation.

  • Impaired hand function: If your Cold Hands affect your ability to perform everyday tasks or if you notice a decline in hand strength or dexterity, it's advisable to see a healthcare professional to assess the cause and determine appropriate interventions.

  • Concerning associated symptoms: If your Cold Hands are accompanied by additional concerning symptoms such as joint stiffness, swelling, skin ulceration, or other systemic symptoms, it's crucial to seek medical attention promptly to rule out underlying medical conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs related to Cold Hands.


Can Cold Hands be a sign of an underlying health condition?

Yes, Cold Hands can be a symptom of underlying health conditions such as Raynaud's disease, hypothyroidism, or peripheral artery disease (PAD). If you consistently experience CH, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.

Are there any natural remedies for Cold Hands?

While natural remedies may not provide a complete cure, some individuals find relief from CH through measures like wearing warm gloves, using hand warmers, practising relaxation techniques, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise.

Can stress worsen Cold Hands?

Yes, stress can contribute to vasoconstriction and exacerbate CH. Managing stress levels through relaxation techniques, exercise, and adopting stress-reducing strategies can help alleviate symptoms.

Can Cold Hands affect daily activities?

Yes, CH can affect daily activities, especially those that require fine motor skills or prolonged use of the hands. Tasks like writing, typing, or playing musical instruments may become more challenging due to reduced dexterity and discomfort.

Can wearing gloves help prevent Cold Hands?

Yes, wearing gloves can provide insulation and help maintain hand warmth in cold weather or environments. It is recommended to choose gloves that are well-insulated and cover the hands adequately.

What vitamin deficiency causes you to feel cold?

If you don't have enough vitamin B12, your body may not produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your system. This can lead to anaemia, which can make you feel cold and shaky, particularly in your hands and feet.

What are some complications associated with cold hands?

Complications from freezing hands are uncommon. You run the risk of developing ulcers that could permanently harm your hands, fingers, and thumbs if a medical condition that causing it also destroys the tissue in your hands.

Untreated ulcers can, in the worst situations, lead to gangrene, necessitating the surgical removal of the affected hand. If you have a medical condition that impacts blood flow to your hands, you should see a physician as soon as you notice any new cuts or sores on your hands.


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