Why Are My Hands Turning Cold and Blue?
Mood Ring Hands
I have mood ring hands, which is to say that they change color quite frequently throughout the day. The colors they turn can be quite dramatic at times, and people have often looked at my hands with shock and asked me what's wrong with them.
Sometimes they're really pink, sometimes they're orange, and sometimes they're extremely pale. The only time I start worrying about my hands, though, is when they begin turning purple and blue. Since it's a sort of strange thing to happen to one's hands, I decided to find out what's happening with my poor mood ring hands.
Do your find your hands turning blue from time to time, as well? Read on to find what's happening.
The Most Common Causes
There are several reasons why your hands might be turning blue:
- You might be getting frostbite: Let's hope this is not the case!
- It might be cynanosis: which involves the skin (or mucus membranes) turning blue due to a lack of oxygen (let's also hope this is not the case)
- Your fingers might be bruised: did someone just shut your hand in a car door? Oh man...
- You might have a blood clot: which would explain why your fingers are turning blue due to a lack of blood flow.
- You might be in circulatory shock: which may also be accompanied by confusion, unconsciousness, and organ failure.
- You might have Raynaud's disease: which is especially likely if your hands turn blue with some regularity.
In my case, Raynaud's disease is to blame. Chances are this is the case for you, too (unless you are particularly unfortunate and one of the other conditions is to blame), so let's delve a little deeper into the subject.
Raynaud's Disease Symptoms
Do your hands, like mine, turn blue a lot? Chances are you might have Raynaud's disease. Don't worry, it's not really a disease. It's more of an inconvenient condition that involves certain parts of your body (such as your nose, lips, ears, toes, and especially your hands) turning numb and cold in response to both temperature and stress (which supports my whole mood ring hand explanation).
How it Works
The way that Raynaud's disease works is that, in the face of stress or cooler temperatures, smaller arteries that pump blood through your skin go into vasospasm, which is a dramatic narrowing of vessels which limits blood circulation (hence the blue coloring).
The symptoms of Raynaud's disease are:
- Cold toes and fingers
- Mood ring hands (which is my way of saying that your skin changes color in response to stress or cold temperatures)
- A prickly or numb feeling in your fingers / toes when you warm them or feel relief from whatever's stressing you out
How it Goes Down
When you're having a Raynaud's "attack," your skin will typically first turn white, then blue. You'll go from having hands that are cold to having hands that are numb or close to numb. When you finally warm your hands up again, they might swell, tingle, throb, or turn red.
Sometimes attacks are uneven—one or two fingers might be more acutely affected than others. You can totally see this in the photo of my hand to the right.
What About You?
Do your hands turn blue?
There are two types of Raynaud's: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud's is when this condition takes place without any underlying disease. Secondary Raynaud's is when the condition is caused by an underlying problem, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren's syndrome, Scleroderma, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive trauma, smoking, some sort of injury, a medication you're taking, exposure to certain chemicals, or a disease of the arteries.
Who Is More Likely to Have Raynaud's?
Raynaud's is more common amongst:
- People living in colder climates
- People who have family members with Raynaud's (it seems to run in families)
If you get Raynaud's, it's most likely to crop up when you're 15-30 years old. So if you're in your 50s and this hasn't been a problem before, chances are it won't be!
How Can I Avoid Getting Blue Hands?
If you don't want your hands to turn blue (Raynaud's or not), I recommend investing in some warm, sturdy gloves and socks. It's that simple. Yeah, some people treat Raynaud's by getting a surgery called a sympathectomy, but I don't recommend it. What's so bad about having colorful hands, eh?
Mood Ring Hands... Are Real!
What I've learned by reading up on Raynaud's disease is that I really do have mood ring hands, or at least hands that visually change color when I'm stressed out.
Do your hands turn blue? What do you tell people when they stare at them? Let us know in the comments!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.