As the "bomb cyclone" known as winter storm Grayson descends upon the east coast, your hands might be feeling a little colder than usual. But if, in general, you feel like your hands are somehow always inside their own personal ice buckets, you're not alone. It turns out that having perpetually cold hands is a pretty common complaint. And, luckily, it's probably not something you need to worry too much about. But it is annoying.
Essentially, your hands are kept warm thanks to your body's circulatory system. Warm blood is sent all the way from your heart down to your fingers, and more blood means more warmth. But if you're out in the cold or if someone sneakily left a window open in your office, your body's thermoregulation techniques might kick in.
One of those strategies is to constrict your blood vessels, which keeps more blood near your core in order to protect your vital organs, says Natalie Evans, MD, at Cleveland Clinic. But the result is that your poor fingers lose some of that warmth. And, as Albert Ahn, MD, an internist at NYU Langone Medical Center explains to Buzzfeed, some of us are just simply more sensitive to those environmental changes than others, which means we're left with cold hands more often — even when our coworkers couldn't care less.
However, in some cases, having cold hands when it's not cold out could be a sign of something more serious going on. For instance, Reynaud's disease causes your blood vessels to randomly contract — technical term: vasospasm — which causes the affected area to turn white and feel cold. Although it's uncomfortable, Reynaud's usually isn't dangerous. But it may be a side effect of another issue (e.g. lupus or thyroid disorders). So if you notice any changes in the color or texture of your skin along with a feeling of coldness, definitely ask your doctor about it.
And, of course, if you've been out in very cold temperatures for a long time, your cold hands could be suffering from the early stages of frostbite — if that's the case, please get that checked out.