7 Physical Signs You May Actually Be Cold Intolerant
While some folks truly dislike feeling cold, there's a big difference between being sensitive to chilly conditions and showing signs of actual cold intolerance. And there are various physical symptoms that can point to this being the issue, apart from the fact you're always bundled up in warm layers.
The thing is, cold intolerance is not so much about personal preference, but about actually feeling cold for no reason. And as you might have guessed, a true cold intolerance usually stems from an underlying medical issue that's left your body unable to stay warm. "Cold intolerance can be due to a variety of medical conditions," Dr. Scott Schreiber, chiropractic physician, nutritionist, and acupuncturist, tells Bustle. "They include anemias, hypothyroidism, under-active pituitary gland, vascular problems, fibromyalgia, and lupus."
But it can also be a side effect of some medications. "Certain blood pressure medicines work to slow the pumping of your heart which can impact blood flow to your hands and feet and cause cold intolerance," Dr. Tania Elliott, board-certified allergist/immunologist at NYU Langone Health, tells Bustle.
Either way, you'll want to stop by your doctor for a checkup. "Some conditions, like anemia, may require a supplement, [while] others may be more serious and need medical intervention," Dr. Schreiber says. "Lab work and additional testing may be required."
If you're always freezing, no matter the temperature, take some of these symptoms into account as it may be a sign you're truly cold intolerant, according to experts.
1. Your Hands & Feet Are Freezing
While your whole body may feel cold, you may notice that the iciest bits are your hands and feet, Dr. Schreiber says. This is the area many people with cold intolerance complain about the most.
2. Your Hands & Feet Turn Blue
Similarly, if you notice that your hands and feet turn pale, or even a light shade of blue, that's a surefire sign something's up. "This is a sign that there is poor circulation in your body and inadequate blood flow," Dr. Elliott says, which can leave you feeling cold.
3. You're Always The Coldest One In The Room
One of the biggest tip-offs will be that, more often than not, "you are the coldest one in the room," Dr. Elliott says. "Everyone else is perfectly fine with the temperature, and you are bundled in sweaters and scarves."
4. Adding More Layers Doesn't Always Help
Your symptoms may be due to a true cold intolerance if they're "not resolved by adding warm layers," triple board-certified physician Monisha Bhanote, MD, FASCP, FCAP, tells Bustle. You may feel slightly better with fuzzy socks or a warm scarf on, but since the issue isn't stemming from your environment, it won't always help.
5. Your Nose Is Cold
If your hands and feet are cold, as well as the tip of your nose, it may be a sign you're experiencing Raynaud's phenomenon, Dr. Bhanote says, which is a condition that causes restricted blood flow to your small vessels in your fingers, toes, nose. "Additional symptoms beside cold intolerance could include cold clammy skin and tingling or numbness in your arms and legs," she says.
6. You Develop Rashes
If you develop rashes or swelling when out in the cold, it could be a sign of cold urticaria, which is an actual allergy to cold weather. As Dr. Elliott says, "Exposure to cold temperatures can trigger allergy cells on the skin to release a chemical called histamine, which leads to itching, swelling, redness, and hives."
7. Your Skin Is Paler Than Usual
Anemia is another condition that can lead to cold intolerance, which can result in pale skin, among other physical symptoms. "Anemia is a condition where someone doesn’t have enough red blood cells," Dr. Elliott says. "Anemia can cause people to be more intolerant to the cold because you don’t have enough blood to circulate oxygen to your tissues. The body supplies the most important tissues first, like the heart, lungs, and brain, so your hands and feet are last on the list."
It's normal to prefer being warm and cozy. But if you find that you're cold all the time, or that you have some of these physical symptoms — such as pale skin, or icy hands — it could be a sign of actual cold intolerance. And that's definitely worth pointing out to a doctor.