If you feel like your hands and feet are always icy, it's probably due to poor circulation. Reasons for poor circulation range from a typical sign of aging, to more serious conditions like problems with your blood vessels, your thyroid, neuropathy (nerve damage), or iron deficiency. When circulation is impaired, blood flow is reduced in certain areas in the body, especially the hands and feet, since they are farther away from the heart. The body restricts blood flow to keep your core warm, leading to cold hands and feet.
- Pain in the legs while walking: This could be a sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes plaque to build up in the arteries that carry blood around your body. PAD is associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, so it is important to get diagnosed and treated early.
- You feel cold, but when touched by others, your temperature feels normal: This is a possible sign of neuropathy, or nerve damage. This can result from diabetes or if you’ve had a stroke, or other causes, says Elizabeth Ratchford, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Vascular Medicine.
- Color changes in your fingers: If your fingers and toes feel cold and turn white or blue and then red and tingle or throb, it might be due to Raynaud’s disease, which is caused by spasms of the blood vessels. People with Raynaud’s experience an exaggerated response to cold, says Dr. Ratchford—their blood vessels constrict to conserve body temperature, but clamp down very hard and take longer to relax, causing the color changes and tingles.