Cold nose, cold hands – causes and what to do?

Cold nose, cold hands - causes and what to do?

When temperatures drop in winter, we often struggle with cold hands, feet or noses. This is because the cold causes the vessels in our extremities to constrict, and blood flow to them is reduced. However, if you always have cold hands, it could also be due to an illness. We provide practical tips on what you can do to prevent cold hands and explain possible causes.

Cold nose – what is behind it?

Cold hands and feet often have the exact causes of a complex nose: If you don’t dress warm enough and your hands and feet freeze, you usually get a cold nose. If the hands and feet are out, the vessels in the nasal mucosa also constrict. As a result, the blood flow decreases, and the nose freezes.

Incidentally, this reaction of our body makes us particularly susceptible to pathogens. If the nasal mucosa is less well supplied with blood, its functionality also suffers. The inhaled air is no longer cleaned as thoroughly as usual, and pathogens can penetrate the body more easily.


Cold nose – what to do?

Warm clothing is the best protection against a cold nose because you don’t get cold hands and feet. Hot tea, a warm blanket or careful massaging of the nose can also help with a complex nose.

Cold hands in winter: what are the causes?

A vast number of blood vessels traverse our hands. In cold temperatures, these narrow first in the extremities. In addition to the hands, the feet, ears, nose and chin are also affected. Due to the reduced blood flow in the extremities, the core of the body and, thus, vital organs can continue to be supplied with enough warming blood. However, hands, nose and feet cool down faster.

In addition, the skin on our hands is fragile and has hardly any protective fat. Since our hands and feet also have a relatively large surface area, much heat is lost here.

In winter, women often struggle with cold hands and feet, as they usually have less warming muscles than men. In addition, other factors such as hormone balance and the fact that women have low blood pressure much more often than men also play a role.


Cold hands at the computer workstation

Many people who mainly work on the PC complain about cold hands during work. The mouse hand is usually particularly severely affected. If you constantly get cold hands when working on the PC, you should consider whether your hands don’t get out more often in other situations. If you get cold hands, especially when working on the PC, you should first check the room temperature: Is it warm enough in your office? A room temperature of around 21 degrees is ideal.

If you find the temperature in the office to be pleasant, but your hands are still freezing, the following tips can help you:

  • When working, pay attention to your sitting posture: Are you bending your wrists too much? This can disrupt blood flow to the hands. Elevate your hands a little by using a wrist brace, for example.
  • Wear wrist warmers when working on the PC to prevent cold hands.
  • And if all else fails, buy a heated keyboard and mouse.

Always cold hands? Diseases as a cause

Cold hands can also be a sign of a severe illness. This is the case for about five per cent of people who always have cold hands. Connective tissue diseases, circulatory disorders or hormonal imbalances can then be the cause of hard hands.

In addition to physical causes, cold hands can cause psychological problems because our psyche can influence blood circulation. When stressed or afraid, our blood vessels constrict, and our hands freeze, even though it is not cold outside.

If you often suffer from cold hands not only in winter but also in warmer temperatures, you should consult a doctor and have the cause of your symptoms clarified. It is remarkably advisable to see a doctor if you have other symptoms besides cold hands. These include, for example:

  • whitish, bluish or reddish discoloured hands
  • tingling in the fingers
  • numbness in fingers
  • swollen, painful fingers

circulatory disorders as a cause

If your hands are constantly cold, a medical condition is likely behind the symptoms. A possible cause can be a circulatory disorder. The most common reason for a circulatory disorder is arteriosclerosis. Blood fats, blood clots or connective tissue accumulate in the vessels and narrow them. However, arteriosclerosis rarely occurs in the arm vessels.

In addition to arteriosclerosis, circulatory disorders can also be caused by pressure damage to nerves and blood vessels or by inflammatory vascular diseases (thrombangiitis obliterans). Blockages in the small arteries in the hands and feet are particularly common.


Raynaud’s syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome is often the result of such a closure. This is an extreme circulatory disorder in which the hands and feet become bloodless, white, and utterly numb due to a sudden vascular spasm. The hands then turn blue and finally red. In the long term, Raynaud’s syndrome can lead to damage to the vessel walls or tissue death.

Low blood pressure and heart failure as the cause

Low blood pressure is also often the cause of cold fingers. If blood pressure is low, the vessel walls pulsate only slightly, and the parts of the body furthest from the heart are only poorly supplied with blood. The hands are particularly affected by this lack of supply, which means they cool down quickly. In addition to cold hands, low blood pressure is noticeable through tiredness and concentration problems.

Low blood pressure occurs when the blood vessels don’t contract hard enough, or the heart doesn’t beat hard enough. If there is cardiac insufficiency  (cardiac insufficiency), less blood is pumped into the circulatory system. This can also lead to the hands getting less blood flow and cooling down.

Tumours can also cause cold hands. Benign and malignant tumours can disrupt blood flow by pressing on the vessels. Less blood flows through the narrowed vessels, and our hands are supplied with less heat.

Hypothyroidism as the cause

If there is a disruption in the endocrine system, this can affect our vascular circulation and thus cause cold hands. For example, people who suffer from hypothyroidism freeze particularly easily. Because the thyroid hormones influence, among other things, our blood circulation and our sensitivity to heat and cold. In the long term, hypothyroidism can increase the risk of arteriosclerosis and other vascular diseases.


Autoimmune diseases as a cause

Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the body’s tissue is incorrectly not recognized by the immune system and is attacked as a foreign body. Autoimmune diseases include connective tissue diseases, a possible cause of cold hands.

For example, in scleroderma, the connective tissue becomes thicker and thicker. This can lead to vasoconstriction, which then results in impaired blood circulation. Typical signs of scleroderma are swollen and stiff hands and feet. At a later stage, the face can also be affected, which is noticeable in rigid facial skin. Raynaud’s syndrome often occurs with scleroderma.

Another autoimmune disease that can cause cold hands is rheumatoid arthritisIn this form of inflammatory joint disease, especially in the early stages, a feeling of coldness in the hands and feet can occur in addition to painful finger and ankle joints.

psychological causes

Our psyche can also influence our hormone balance and thus impact the blood flow in our vessels. Everyone knows the feeling of getting cold hands from excitement. In moments of particular tension, the increased release of adrenaline and noradrenaline influences vasodilatation and, thus, blood circulation.

Cold hands or cold feet are also standard in people who suffer from depression . The depressive mood can change the hormone release and the activity of messenger substances in the brain. This can affect various bodily functions, including blood circulation and temperature sensitivity.

Four tips against cold hands

If you often have cold hands, you should dress warmly. Not just your hands must be wrapped up thick, but the rest of your body. A warm coat and thick socks are a must! In addition to warm clothing, there are many other tips you can use to get your hands warm again quickly:

  1. Move your fingers: make gripping motions or knead a small foam ball. Alternatively, you can also massage your fingers lightly. The movement or massage stimulates blood circulation, and your fingers will warm up quickly. However, massages may only be carried out if there is no frostbite.
  2. Circulation can also be stimulated by spicy food, such as red pepper, tabasco, chilli, or paprika powder, to pump blood. But beware: the stomach must also tolerate the hot spices!
  3. Warm up your hands from the outside: Place a warm pillow of cherry pits on your hands.
  4. Did your hands get wet? Dry your hands as quickly as possible because the moisture causes evaporation to be cold, which causes the blood vessels to contract.

The treatment depends on the underlying illness, such as if your cold hands have an illness-related cause.


Prevent cold hands

To prevent cold hands, you should train your blood vessels. You can do this, for example, by taking alternating showers more frequently. First, take a warm shower for a minute, which dilates the blood vessels. Then, take a cold shower for five to ten seconds, which causes the blood vessels to contract again. Alternatively, you can immerse your forearms in a warm or cold arm bath.

You can also prevent cold hands with some circulatory training: go swimming, jogging or take a brisk walk to stimulate blood circulation. A visit to the sauna also has a positive effect on blood circulation.

You can also avoid cold hands by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Avoid cigarettes because smoking can damage blood vessels. You should also pay attention to a healthy diet and enough physical activity. It is also essential to ensure enough relaxation in everyday life. In stressful situations, more adrenaline and noradrenaline are released, which can cause the vessels to narrow.

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