We always feel our feet and hands being cold in some situations especially so if the temperature has been dropping lately. Well, this is just normal because the skin temperature usually adjusts to the environmental temperature. However, feeling cold and clammy in the hands and feet most of the time can be a sign of other conditions.
In cases where your hands and feet feel cold for an hour or so, there is nothing to worry about because this does not mean an ongoing medical condition. But, the presence of cold and clammy extremities regularly may warrant you to get a medical consult for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
The presence of frequent cold hands and feet is usually a common indication of circulation problems to the extremities leading to a cold skin. When there is a good perfusion or circulation, there is efficient heat production causing your skin to be warm. Poor circulation depletes oxygen to the affected areas affecting the energy production leading to cool and clammy extremities. Some circulation problems that may be noted include:
• Frostbite- When you have been out in the cold for a while without adequate protection to the hands and feet, the blood flow may be affected. Also, the nerves are affected leading to numbness, tingling sensations or more serious, severe pain in the hand and feet. Minor frostbite can be managed at home, but more serious cases with circulation and nerve affectation may require immediate medical attention.
• Reynaud’s syndrome- This condition involves the chronic constriction of the blood vessels in the peripheral areas in the body such as the hands and feet. The vasoconstriction is the main cause of the condition leading to poor perfusion to these areas.
• Peripheral Vascular Disease- Another circulation problem that may lead to cool hands and feet every time is PVD. PVD is usually caused by obstruction in the blood flow to the peripheral areas in the body such as in the case of thrombus formation or in cases of diabetes.
• Anemia- Anemia involves the reduction in the red blood cells in the blood. Since the RBCs are the ones responsible for transporting the oxygen, being anemic may also cause reduced oxygen utilization in the peripheral areas contributing to cold and clammy skin.
Well, aside from taking note of the temperature of your hands and feet, you should also take a look at the color. The capillary beds usually make the skin and mucous membranes pinkish. However, if you have been noticing a pale or bluish color in your palms and soles including the nail beds, then, it may mean that the circulation to these areas are affected.
Aside from circulation, there may also be problems in the endocrine system, particularly, hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition wherein there is limited production of thyroid hormones that are responsible for metabolism. When hypothyroidism is present, the slow metabolism may also slow down the burning of calories, fats and energy production for the body’s use contributing to cool hands and feet.
There are other minor causes of cool hands and feet such as chronic smoking and being bed ridden. If you have been experiencing cold hands and feet regularly, the best step to take is to consult a health care provider to identify what possibly causes the condition and be able to employ appropriate interventions.