Why My Hands and Feet Are Always Cold?

Having cold hands and feet even when not in a cold environment is quite common. Although uncomfortable, it is usually not a cause for concern as it could just be your system’s way of maintaining its natural body temperature.  

That being said, constantly experiencing cold hands and feet, particularly if accompanied by color changes, could be taken as a warning sign. It is possibly your body’s way of signaling that you may have a problem with your nerves and blood circulation. It may also mean that you are experiencing an issue with tissue damage harming your hands, fingers, feet or toes.

Different signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Changes in the color of the skin around your hands and feet (e.g. like blue or white skin)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Open sores or blisters
  • Tightened or hardened skin

If you feel like your extremities are often cold, you may want to ask your doctor about it. Cold hands and feet are a common complaint, but when this happens to young, healthy people they have to take it more seriously. Cold extremities can signal other more dangerous problems, including Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), rheumatologic conditions, scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or even possibly an under-active thyroid.

Raynaud’s disease

Possibly caused by cold hands and feet Raynaud’s disease, a generally benign condition, causes the blood vessels in the fingers and toes to overly constrict. In those rare cases, arteries in the fingers and toes constrict all of a sudden, and the vessels close down causing temporary color changes. Color changes are direct external visualization of what may be happening beneath the skin and thus they can be quite alarming. Nevertheless, for people with primary or benign forms of Raynaud’s or people without an underlying disease, color changes could also be harmless.

Although Raynaud’s is normally a harmless condition, it can also develop in people with underlying rheumatologic or vascular disease and may be connected with small pits or ulcerations in the fingers or toes that are difficult to heal.

Go and check with your doctor if you have cold extremities and symptoms such as: 

  • sores that heal poorly
  • cracked fingertips or toes
  • thickened or tightened skin
  • fatigue
  • weight differentiation
  • fever
  • joint pain or rashes

The sense of uncomfortably chilly fingers or toes often varies from person to person but can be addressed by:

  • Keeping your feet and hands warm by wearing wool socks, warm footwear and gloves.
  • Maintaining your overall body temperature by wearing layered clothing, which can be removed easily if needed. 
  • Avoiding caffeine and nicotine, since they can further aggravate the effect of the cold.

Older adults and peripheral artery disease

Cold hands and feet in older people can also be linked to PAD, resulting in their arteries becoming narrowed or blocked as plaque gradually builds inside the walls.

PAD usually affects people aged 50 or older with a history of smoking or diabetes. While anyone aged 70 or older should be screened regularly.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.