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Quick Dose: Why Do My Fingers Feel Hard in the Cold?

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If your hands are constantly cold and hard during winter, your body is just regulating its temperature. Our bodies are designed to protect our core, where our vital organs are located. In cold weather, our bodies constrict the blood vessels that keep our extremities warm and redirect that blood flow to the core to keep our vital organs warm. As a result, our hands and feet get cold more easily, and are more susceptible to frostbite, which results in hardening of the skin.

Combat cold hands by wearing mittens in cold weather, and protect your feet with thick socks and lined boots. Keep your core warm by wearing warm layers when going outside. Once inside, run warm (not hot) water over your hands to help stimulate circulation and re-warm them.

While cold hands can be completely normal, it is important to be mindful of other accompanying signs and symptoms that may indicate other health issues. If you also experience intense pain or numbness, be sure to talk to your physician.

Steve Edelstein, MD, FACEP, Northwestern Medical Group, Emergency Medicine

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