What It Really Means When Your Hands Are Constantly Cold

It is fairly common to have cold hands every once in a while. Whether you are running errands on a cold winter afternoon or struggling to stay warm in an office without an adequate heating system, cold hands simply happen from time to time — that's totally normal. However, having cold hands frequently or constantly can be an indicator of an underlying health problem.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, "If your hands feel cold even during warm or mild weather, or they take a long time to warm up after being exposed to the cold, you may have a disease or condition that restricts blood flow to the hands." This can result in your hands feeling colder than usual or your fingertips changing to a blueish or white color while in the cold, and then bright red once blood flow returns to your hands.

Causes and remedies

Possible underlying diseases of cold hands include primary Raynaud's disease and secondary Raynaud's, which is caused by the narrowing of your small arteries, which then limit blood flow to affected areas, such as your hands (via Mayo Clinic). Raynaud's can be caused by a variety of diseases and disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. Pulmonary hypertension can also be a cause, and even certain blood disorders, including cryoglobulinemia, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Other underlying diseases that might be causing your cold hands include diabetes, anemia, or an underactive thyroid (via Healthline). 

Treatment can vary depending on the cause of cold hands. In addition to addressing the underlying cause, Healthline recommends wearing gloves in cold weather, using hand warmers, massaging your hands, and moving around frequently. If your cold hands are accompanied by difficult breathing, hand pain, or color changes in your fingers, you should consult your doctor (via Healthline).