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Learn about your cold skin, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your cold skin from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Cold Skin Checker

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Your Cold Skin May Also be Known as:
Cool skin

Cold Skin Symptoms

Coldness is defined as the condition of being of or at a low temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C), and the human body has various mechanisms in place that regulate this body temperature and prevent the body from becoming too cold or too hot.

Cold skin that is chronic and persistent can be a sign of sensitivity to cold temperatures and an inability of the body to regulate mechanisms against cold. Depending on the environment you are in, cold skin can also be a sign that the body is losing heat faster than it can produce. Regardless of the specific situation, cold skin symptoms should be followed up with professional medical attention.

People with cold skin symptoms may also experience:

  • Feeling cold despite the weather, and often feeling cold when others around them feel comfortable.
  • Cold skin only in specific parts of the body such as the hands or feet
  • Cold skin that does not resolve despite adding extra layers of clothing
  • Shivering
  • Weak pulse
  • Low energy

Call 911 immediately especially if you experience excessive shivering. Once you develop symptoms of weak pulse and fatigue, you may find it difficult to think clearly and get the appropriate care.

Cold Skin Causes Overview

Temperature regulation (or thermoregulation) is controlled by different parts of the body including the hypothalamus (brain), thyroid gland, body fat, blood vessels and skin. These components work together to control body temperature. Cold skin can occur when there is dysregulation or imbalance in any of these components. It is important to see your doctor in order to find the cause of your cold skin symptoms.

Central causes:

  • The brain is the central control center for body temperature. Central causes of coldness result from dysregulation in these brain processes. For example, disorders of the hypothalamus can cause coldness because the body cannot mount proper responses.

Metabolic causes:

There are multiple metabolic processes in place that maintain proper body temperature.

  • Hormone synthesis: The thyroid gland makes hormones that allow your body to burn calories and create heat and fuel. A malfunctioning thyroid that does not produce enough hormone (hypothyroidism) can cause such cold skin symptoms.
  • Fat synthesis: Fat is necessary to maintain the heat your body creates. Any condition that significantly decreases your body fat, such as anorexia, can lead to cold skin because your body has no means of maintaining the heat it creates

Environmental causes:

Cold skin related to environmental triggers such as exposure to cold weather or water can disrupt the body's natural mechanisms and/or put the body at risk for losing heat when exposed to cold situations. This is hypothermia and is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention.

  • Cold weather or water: Many people often underestimate how such conditions can affect the body. Any water that is less than normal body temperature can cause rapid heat loss. Most people cannot willingly stand such temperatures for prolonged periods of time and will get out of the water when it becomes unbearable. However, for those finding themselves stranded in a large body of water, quick escape is often not an option.
  • Inappropriate attire: Wearing clothes that aren't warm enough for weather or water conditions can easily cause coldness. Conversely, being unable to remove wet clothes promptly and change into warm clothes can cause coldness and shivering symptoms as well.
  • Inappropriate living conditions: Houses that are improperly heated during wintertime can cause these symptoms in at risk populations such as infants and the elderly.

Top 7 Cold Skin Causes

  1. 1.Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck, no longer produces adequate levels of hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for many bodily functions including breathing, heart rate, and metabolism.

    You should visit your primary care physician. Hypothyroidism is a complex condition that is usually treated with hormone replacement therapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Condition Involving Blue Skin

    Blue skin may be due to a lack of oxygen delivered to that area by the blood, which is dangerous. You should see a doctor immediately!

    There may be several explanations for this symptom and its severity, but a healthcare professional should make an assessment as soon as possible because it may be serious.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    blue skin
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  3. 3.Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

    Eczema is a form of skin inflammation that causes skin to be dry, itchy, red, and irritated.

    You should go to your local pharmacy or retail clinic to be treated. The usual treatment for atopic eczema involves avoiding irritants and other triggers, using moisturizers to prevent inflammation, as well as steroid creams and ointments when the inflammation flares up.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    trouble sleeping, feeling itchy or tingling all over, dry skin, scalp itchiness, flexor surface rash
    Symptoms that never occur with eczema (atopic dermatitis):
    fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit

    Cold Skin Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having cold skin.

    Take a quiz
  4. 4.Hashimoto's Disease

    The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck that is responsible for making thyroid hormones. These hormones control important body functions, such as heart rate and the rate at which the body turns food into energy. Hashimoto's disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid, and not enough thyroid hormone is produced, leading to symptoms like fatigue and weight gain.

    You should visit your primary care physician. Hashimoto's disease is a complex condition that is usually treated by hormone replacement therapy to bring hormone levels back up to normal.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, constipation, diarrhea
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Graves' Disease

    The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck that is responsible for making thyroid hormones. These hormones control important body functions, such as heart rate and the rate at which the body turns food into energy. In Grave's disease, the immune system malfunctions and drives the thyroid to produce excessive amounts of hormones, leading to symptoms such as trouble sleeping, irritability and nervousness, heat sensitivity, hand tremors, and weight loss.

    You should visit your primary care physician to get your blood tested. Grave's disease is a complex condition that is managed with prescription antithyroid medications, as well as surgery in rare cases.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Chronic Kidney Disease

    Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal failure, is a disorder caused by gradual loss of kidney function. It is most common in elderly individuals.

    You should make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms as soon as possible.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, decreased sex drive, unintentional weight loss
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Normal Occurrence of Dry Skin

    Dry skin can be caused by overheating during the winter or air conditioning in the summer, the loss of sweat and oil glands as you get older, and overuse of things like soap, antiperspirant, perfumes, and hot baths.

    You can treat this at home by using a moisturizer to reduce water loss and soothe the skin.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    dry skin
    Symptoms that always occur with normal occurrence of dry skin:
    dry skin
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Cold Skin Treatments and Relief

At home cold skin remedies such as using a heater or wearing warmer clothes often do not work for people with chronic cold skin. Most causes of cold skin require that you see a physician promptly in order to get appropriate evaluation and treatment.

If your cold skin is a symptom of an underlying condition, your treatment will depend on the cause.

After determining the cause of your cold intolerance your doctor may suggest:

  • Hormone replacement: Hormones are key players in the regulation of body temperature. If your cold intolerance is due to hormone imbalance, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate hormone(s) to get your body back on track.
  • Surgery: Infrequently,some central causes of cold intolerance – such as compression of the hypothalamus by a mass – may require surgical removal.
  • Rehabilitation program: If your cold intolerance is related to conditions that have significantly decreased body fat percentage, your doctor may suggest a rehabilitation program to help you gain weight safely and healthily.

If your cold skin is a symptom of environmental triggers, there are many preventative measures you can take to prevent your body temperature from going too low.

The acronym COLD– cover, overexertion, layers, dry – is an excellent way to remember the different methods you can use to protect yourself and family from hypothermia.

  • Cover: Wear a hat or other protective clothing to prevent body heat from escaping the head, face and neck. Use mittens instead of gloves to cover your hands.
  • Overexertion: In cold weather, avoid activities like running or jumping that cause sweating. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause your body to lose heat more quickly.
  • Layers: Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers. Outer clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material is best for wind protection. For inner layers, choose materials such as wool, silk or polypropylene – these materials hold body heat better than cotton does.
  • Dry: Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible and try to stay as dry as possible. Pay special attention to your hands and feet, as these body parts can easily get wet again.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Cold Skin

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you had any changes in your weight?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our cold skin symptom checker.

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Cold Skin Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced cold skin have also experienced:

    • 6% Fatigue
    • 4% Nausea
    • 2% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • People who have experienced cold skin were most often matched with:

    • 5% Hypothyroidism
    • 3% Condition Involving Blue Skin
    • 3% Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Cold Skin Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having cold skin.

Take a quiz