Cold hands and feet

Dr Mark Porter / 22 February 2017

Dr Mark Porter advises a reader whose hands and feet go white and cold, even indoors.



Q: I have been prone to cold hands and feet ever since I was a teenager but I am now in my sixties and they seem to have got much worse.  During last winter my fingers turned ghostly white even though I was wearing gloves.  And I have noticed that it now even happens when I am indoors holding a cold drink.  Are there any supplements that might help?

A: This sounds like a classic case of Raynaud’s phenomenon – spasm of the blood vessels supplying the extremities that is triggered by cold (and sometimes emotion) and named after the French physician Maurice Raynaud who first described the condition.

It is much more common in women affecting 10% of them to some degree, and it often starts in early adulthood.  Raynaud’s can sometimes be associated with underlying health issues, but in most cases the exact cause remains poorly understood.

Your best bet is to do some research on www.raynauds.org which contains a wealth of information on the condition and how to deal with it.  Approaches range from keeping your hands and feet warm, to a number of prescription drugs (including treatments for high blood pressure and the anti-depressant fluoxetine), through to supplements with fish oils and the herb Ginkgo Biloba.  

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