A man stands barefoot on a frozen lakePhoto: N_Sakarin (Shutterstock)

I wear fluffy slippers around the house, not because I think I’m chic or because I prefer the feel of soft, fuzzy fur to bare feet. I do this because my feet always – and I always mean – freeze. In winter I stuff toe warmers into my thickest socks only to find that my feet are still cold even with several layers of insulation.

My cold feet crisis protocol usually includes a hot shower to get them into a warmer state, followed by putting on warm socks and slippers right away. This can do the trick, but not always. If you also suffer from constantly frozen feet, there are several possible causes. Most of them are benign, while others might warrant a doctor’s intervention.

Illustration for article titled Why Are My Feet Always So Cold?

Raynaud’s disease is a common condition

If you’re younger and relatively healthy (like me), cold extremities are usually a sign of Raynaud’s disease. It is a condition caused by narrowing of the arteries in the extremities, usually the toes or fingers. This narrowing restricts blood flow to the affected area, and symptoms (cold feet) are usually caused by cold temperatures and stress.

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Other symptoms include prickly, tingly feelings and occasional numbness in the affected extremities and changes in color. The Mayo Clinic is working out under the condition:

During a Raynaud attack, affected skin areas usually turn white first. Then they often turn blue and feel cold and numb. As you warm up and your blood circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red, pound, tingle, or swell.

Although Raynauds most commonly affects your fingers and toes, it can affect other areas of your body as well, such as the B. Nose, lips, ears and even nipples. After the warm-up, it may take 15 minutes for normal blood flow to return to the area.

Usually Raynaud’s disease is nothing to worry about, even if the common cold becomes a pervasive problem. In rare cases, however, medical treatment may be required.

Illustration for article titled Why Are My Feet Always So Cold?

Primary Raynauds vs. Secondary Raynauds

There are two classes of diagnoses for this particular disease. Primary Raynauds are benign and people who have it can usually resolve symptoms on their own. The more serious type is secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon (also known as Reynaud’s phenomenon), which is usually caused by an underlying disease.

As the Mayo Clinic notesThere are several conditions in which Raynaud is portrayed as a mere symptom rather than a disease in its own right, including connective tissue disease, artery disease, carpel tunnel syndrome, and repeated stress injuries. It can also be stimulated by smoking, hand and foot injuries, and certain medications.

If you suspect that your cold extremities are the symptom of a larger underlying problem that needs to be diagnosed, speak to your doctor right away.

Peripheral artery disease

Another cause of cold feet – one that affects approximately 8.5 million Americans. according to Harvard Medical School– is a peripheral artery disease caused by fatty deposits that build up in narrowed arteries and restrict blood supply to the limbs. Studies have shown that opportunities develop PAD are exacerbated by obesity and age.

Harvard Medical School notes that some of the symptoms of peripheral artery disease are similar to Reynaud’s, but get much more serious pretty quickly:

One cause of decreased blood flow is Atherosclerosiswhere arteries become narrowed by fatty deposits and prevent blood flow in the limbs. As a result, your feet may appear blue or purple when sitting and pale or white when lying down. You may feel pain in your calves while walking. Your doctor can usually diagnose this condition (peripheral artery disease) by checking the pulse in your legs.

However, there are more serious conditions that could be indicated by cold extremities, such as “scleroderma, Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis; or a sub-activity thyroid, “according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you are concerned that these circumstances apply to you, contact your doctor immediately.

What to do if you have a minor form of Raynaud?

Since the more harmless primary Raynauds are basically just an obstacle that turns out to be uncomfortable, doctors do not advise taking drastic measures. According to G. Jay Bishop, MDThere are some best practices that you can follow Cleveland Clinic:

  • Keep your tootsies toasted: Wear suitable shoes and woolen socks (or layers of socks) as needed.
  • Also, keep your hands warm: Even simple changes, like wearing gloves instead of gloves, can help.
  • Look at your core temperature: Wear layers of clothing – especially thin, warm layers – to help maintain your core temperature.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine: These are vasoconstrictors that can worsen the effects of cold on your extremities.

Other than that, there is no cure. So if you are like me you have to live with it. If you’re not moving to Arizona you may need to be really good at pooling.