Cold sensations to the feet can come from poor circulation, disorders of the nervous system, cold exposure injuries such as frostbite, and decreased metabolism from a low thyroid condition (hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid). Depending upon the cause of the symptoms, coldness in the feet can be accompanied by other symptoms, including pain, numbness, changes in skin color, or a pins and needles tingling sensation. Other diseases that can cause cold feet symptoms include diabetes, arteriosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud's phenomenon, and neuropathy of any cause.
In people with diabetes mellitus, chronic abnormally elevated blood and urine sugar, causes narrowing of arteries and capillaries that impair blood supply to tissues leading to cold feet symptoms. Arteriosclerosis and peripheral vascular disease result from chronic elevation of blood cholesterol levels that leads to blood vessel narrowing. Raynaud's phenomenon features narrowing of tiny blood vessels as a reaction to nerve sensitivity to cold exposure, which causes cold feet symptoms. Frostbite causes permanent damage to blood vessels that are injured from freezing of tissues.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Burning or Swollen Feet? What Foot Pain Says About Your Health
Foot pain and heel pain can be serious health problems. Discover information about cold feet, itchy feet, burning feet and...
Feet Facts Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Did you know that certain shoes and common diseases can wreak havoc on your feet? If you've been having problems with your feet,...
How Diabetes Can Affect Your Feet
Learn more about diabetes related foot problems. For people with diabetes, too much glucose in the blood can cause serious foot...
Picture of Foot
The end of the leg on which a person normally stands and walks. See a picture of Foot Anatomy and learn more about the health...
Causes of Cold Feet
Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin...
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are...
Frostbite (Frostnip and Other Cold Weather-Related Injuries)
There are two categories to cold weather-related injuries. 1) no freezing of body tissue (trench foot and chilblains), and 2)...
Hyothermia or extreme exposure to cold can be classified as either accidental hypothermia (unintentional cold exposure) and...
Hypothyroidism (Symptoms, Diet, Natural and Medical Treatments, Tests)
Hypothyroidism is any state in which thyroid hormone production is below normal. Normally, the rate of thyroid hormone...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD Symptoms, Signs, Causes, Treatments)
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and...
Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to...
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the connective tissue. It is characterized by the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in...
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes (Similarities and Differences)
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which a person's blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Over 29.1 million...
Other Causes of Cold Feet
Examples of Medications for Cold Feet
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter