Why do my toes freeze and the others don't?
There are big existential questions like “why me?”, “what is the meaning of life?” and, above all, “how come my toes freeze all the time and not other people's?”
“Having cold extremities is really a question of blood circulation,” reassures Olivier Bernard, alias the Pharmacist, who himself is afflicted with this phenomenon of frozen toes.
The pharmacist and science popularizer explains that several factors come into play, namely the quantity of capillaries on the surface of the skin, their contraction – more or less marked depending on the individual – and the feeling of cold. “There are people who will have, at the level of their nerves, a greater sensitivity to feel pain associated with the cold. We have no control over that!”
People whose toes suffer from the cold have probably wondered if they risk losing their toes when the weather is freezing. The answer is yes, according to the Pharmacist: “If you're outside, it's too cold and you stay there too long, you could have tissue destruction.” This is what is commonly called frostbite.
On the other hand, “the majority of people will be in so much pain that they will return before it causes frostbite”, specifies the expert. Frostbite occurs more often from being badly caught outdoors than from skating in La Fontaine Park, but when it happens, it can actually lead to amputation. Not to a spontaneous fall of limbs, anyway!
Having a chilly toe is not a medical condition in itself. However, it can be an indicator of a problem that could be serious, for example if you have never had cold feet and are suddenly overwhelmed by them. “Often it's a sign that the person has cholesterol deposits in their blood vessels,” says Pharmacist.
Some medical conditions can also cause toesrefrigerated, such as Raynaud's disease, which causes hyperreactivity to cold and extremities that turn white with the slightest exposure, or even perniosis, an autoimmune disease which causes an explosion of capillaries when the feet heat up. Ailments that can only be diagnosed in the doctor's office.
In addition to people with these specific cases, people with cool feet can prevent the worst by moving to activate their blood circulation, by avoiding compressing their feet (two pairs of socks is a bad idea!) and investing in reallywarm boots or even heated insoles.
“When you have really frozen toes, you shouldn't put them in the hot weather, advises Olivier Bernard. You really just have to leave them in the dry to warm up to room temperature.” And if you're lucky, you can get your hair stroked by someone you trust who will make sure your toes will stay in place!