It is normal to experience cold fingers or hands periodically, especially on a cold day or when feeling chilly. However, having cold fingers even on a warm day can sometimes be a sign of an underlying issue.
When the fingers and toes feel a little colder than the rest of the body, this is because the body sends blood and warmth to the essential organs in the chest and abdomen first.
Read on for more information about the possible causes of always having cold fingers.
The medications that a person takes can sometimes cause them to have cold fingers or hands.
Medications that affect blood flow, such as amphetamines, over the counter or prescription decongestants, and some cancer drugs, can cause the tiny blood vessels in the hands and fingers to spasm.
This muscular contraction decreases the amount of blood flowing to the hands, which can make the fingers feel cold and tingly.
If medications are the cause, it is important to speak with a doctor about the symptoms. They may be able to prescribe a different drug or suggest an alternative treatment plan that can help eliminate the cold feeling.
The thyroid gland is a small gland in the front of the throat. It produces many hormones that are important for the body’s metabolism and normal functioning.
In a person with hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough of these hormones, and this can cause cold intolerance. It can also lead to reduced blood flow in the body, which can cause the fingers to feel cold.
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that requires a doctor to diagnose and treat it. It is usually easily treatable with medication, but a person may need more frequent monitoring at the beginning of treatment so that the doctor can determine the correct dosage.
Raynaud’s disease, also sometimes called Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, is a condition of the blood vessels in either the fingers and toes or, less commonly, the nose and ears.
Any exposure to stress or cold, even touching a cold steering wheel, for example, can decrease blood circulation to the area. This reduced circulation causes what people call white finger attacks, which are characteristic of Raynaud’s.
The condition can range from very mild to quite severe, and it can even cause sores or ulcerations in the fingers or toes in some people who already have impaired circulation.
People with Raynaud’s should avoid caffeine and nicotine because these stimulants can worsen the symptoms.
It is also important to keep the fingers and toes warm by wearing thick gloves and socks and to wear layers so that it is easier to regulate the body temperature.
In rare cases, cold fingers can occur due to a blood clot that has formed elsewhere in the body and then traveled to an artery in the arm.
This clot may result in the fingers, hand, and arm suddenly feeling cold and painful. It is a medical emergency that requires an immediate trip to the emergency room.
Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that is present in animal products, including:
It plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and nerve cells and also performs other important functions. Most people get plenty of vitamin B-12 in their diet, but vegetarians, vegans, people with nutrient absorption issues, and those who have undergone weight loss surgery have a higher risk of developing a deficiency.
A vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, and a cold feeling in the fingers. In more serious cases, it can also cause a swollen tongue, cognitive problems, and memory loss.
Anyone with these symptoms should speak with their doctor. A simple blood test can identify a deficiency, which doctors can treat with vitamin B-12 supplementation.
Increasing the dietary intake of vitamin B-12 is important for people at risk of the condition. Fortified cereals, bread, and other grains are good sources of the vitamin.
Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.
There are many different causes and types of anemia, but its symptoms often include cold fingers, toes, and hands. People with anemia may also experience weakness, fatigue, tiredness, dizziness, headaches, pale skin, and lightheadedness.
Iron deficient anemia is the most common type of the condition, and it occurs as a result of blood loss or poor iron absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
A doctor can diagnose anemia with a simple blood test. After diagnosing anemia, the doctor may perform additional tests to determine what is causing the condition.
Some people may be able to treat their anemia by taking iron supplements.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a cardiovascular disease that usually occurs in older adults.
In this disease, plaque builds up in the arteries of the arms or legs, blocking blood flow to the hands or feet. Although the condition usually occurs in the legs and feet, it is possible to have PAD in the arms and hands.
The symptoms of PAD in this area of the body include pain and cramping in the arms, cold and numb hands, and pale blue fingers. Some people may also develop sores and find that wounds either worsen in time or do not heal.
People with PAD in the arms require medical treatment, but they can take some actions at home to manage the symptoms:
- quitting smoking or avoiding secondhand smoke
- getting regular exercise
- seeing a doctor regularly
Stress and anxiety can also cause cold fingers and hands. Epinephrine surges are common when someone is experiencing a great deal of stress or anxiety.
This hormone triggers a chain of reactions that causes the blood vessels in the hands and fingers to constrict and decreases blood flow to the fingers.
Deep breathing exercises, meditation, physical exercise, and other stress-management techniques can help prevent this from happening in the future.
Having cold hands or fingers is usually a symptom of being cold.
However, when this feeling persists even in warm weather, it is important to visit a doctor for a checkup, just in case something more serious is to blame.
Most causes of cold fingers are easily treatable.