Icy cold feet can be uncomfortable and annoying. Most of the time, chronic cold feet are nothing to worry about in young, healthy people. But, if you do have cold feet and aren’t sure of the cause, it’s a good idea to see your podiatrist to talk about possible causes and solutions.
Your blood vessels are designed to carry blood throughout your body. When you get cold, these blood vessels constrict to conserve heat for your vital organs. But for some people, this process is overactive, leading to lots of constriction even if it’s only a little cold. If you tend to be more sensitive to cold than others around you, this may be one of the reasons why.
Although minor vasoconstriction is nothing to worry about, it can be bothersome. Warm yourself up on chilly days by sipping hot liquids and wearing warm — but not too tight — shoes and socks when the temperature drops.
In some cases, blood vessels constrict to the point of being painful. Instead of gradually narrowing with cold, they abruptly close with even a slight amount of cold. People with Raynaud’s may have numbness, tingling, burning, and bluish color to their hands and feet when exposed to cold.
If you think you have Raynaud’s, talk with your doctor. Usually, it can be managed with home care such as wearing extra layers, warm gloves and socks when needed, and avoiding smoking and caffeine.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Older adults, particularly those over age 70, are most commonly affected by peripheral artery disease (PAD). This is characterized by a buildup of plaque inside the arteries, which restricts blood flow to the arms and legs. Symptoms of PAD include:
- Cold legs and feet
- Painful muscle cramps in the legs
- Foot or toe wounds that won’t heal
Untreated PAD can be dangerous, so be sure to see your doctor if you have any symptoms. Any wound on the foot that doesn’t heal properly warrants a call to your podiatrist.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when thyroid hormone levels are too low. This can slow down many of the body’s processes, resulting in:
- Feeling cold
- Dry skin
Hypothyroidism is difficult to diagnose with symptoms alone. Usually, a blood test is needed, and treatment is available to return hormone levels to normal.
Warm Up Your Feet
If you frequently have cold feet but can’t identify the cause, ask your podiatrist for advice. Sometimes, treating an underlying health condition will solve the issue. Regardless of the reason, constantly cold feet can interfere with enjoyment of the fall and winter seasons. Keep them comfortable by wearing warm but breathable socks, and using foot warmers inside your shoes on very cold days if needed.
Do you have concerns about the health of your feet? Contact Dr. Jeffery LaMour to schedule your appointment!