Hands and feet feel cold when they don’t receive an ample supply of warm blood containing oxygen and nutrients. The most common reason for this problem is exposure to cold air, especially from a draught or the wind. An underlying health problem may be responsible, but whatever the cause of the condition, there is much you can do to relieve the symptoms.
Although cold extremities can be uncomfortable or even painful, the problem is usually relatively minor. When you are inadequately protected from the cold- especially if you also smoke or feel tired, faint or anxious – your peripheral arteries become narrower. This narrowing restricts the circulation of warm blood to your hands and feet with the purpose of keeping the rest of your body warm.
Cold extremities can also result from hormone fluctuations before menstruation or a lack of circulating nutrients, as when a person is on a very strict diet or is suffering from an eating disorder. In addition, they may occur during the incubation period before an infection. Other causes include Raynaud’s syndrome and circulatory problems associated with such conditions as chronic bronchitis and arterial disease. Prolonged restriction of the blood supply to the hands and feet may lead to chilblains – shiny red or purple lumps on the fingers or toes that can be painful and itchy.
Cold hands and feet and the development of chilblains can be prevented in four simple ways. Dress warmly in cold weather. Stop or reduce smoking. Get exercise that raises your pulse rate for about 20 minutes every day. Eat regular, nutritious meals to fuel your body so that it raises metabolism, creating heat. Smaller, frequent meals are better than one or two large meals a day.
Massage with stimulating aromatherapy essential oils can boost the circulation in hands and feet. Mix three drops each of rosemary and black pepper oils into a tablespoon of warm sweet almond or olive oil, and massage your hands, arms, feet and calves with the mixture. Use a firm stroke as you sweep your hand up your leg or arm, and a lighter one as you sweep back down towards your hand or foot.