No matter what the weather is, some of us always seem to suffer from chronically cold fingers and toes. And beyond making people jump at your touch, icy extremities can be annoying (thick, scratchy wool socks = not fun) and pretty painful.
Rather than settle for pat answers like “cold hands, warm heart” or the vague idea you might have poor circulation, we dug into the common causes for cold digits and when they might be cause for concern.
Ice, Ice Baby
As it turns out, poor circulation is not the cause. “When you have poor circulation, your skin actually gets red—not white or blue,” says Venita Chandra, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Stanford. “The tiny little blood vessels in the feet and hands are trying to pull as much blood as possible there, so they’re completely vasodialated.” 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, Chandra says. It’s part of your natural physiology and method for regulating body temperature: Your body temp is controlled by the hypothalamus, the thermostat in yo…