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Cold skin

Cold skin: Introduction

Cold skin is a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious disorders, diseases or conditions. Cold skin can result from exposure to cold or wetness, metabolic diseases and disorders, infection and other abnormal processes.

Temporarily having cold skin can be a normal reaction to everyday conditions and situations, such as briefly washing hands in cold water, touching cold metal or holding a glass of ice water.

Cold skin can also be symptom of a moderate to serious condition that results from prolonged or extreme cold exposure, such as hypothermia, frost nip and frostbite.

Cold skin can also be a symptom of metabolic diseases and disorders, such as hypothyroidism and metabolic acidosis. Cold skin can also occur in shock, anemia, and death and impending death. Cold skin can also be a side effect of some medications or occur with narcotic overdose.

Cold skin that occurs with moist skin or sweating can result in clammy skin. Clammy skin can be a symptoms of febrile illnesses and infectious diseases, such as pneumonia and influenza. Clammy skin also occurs in heat exhaustion.

Cold skin often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include fever, chills and shivering.

Complications that can accompany cold skin vary depending on the underlying disorder, disease or condition and its severity. Some complications, such as those due to severe hypothermia and metabolic acidosis are life-threatening. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of cold skin.

Diagnosing a root cause of a cold skin begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination.

Temperature is an important measure of body temperature, which can help to asses a variety of conditions that can cause cold skin or clammy skin, such as a low body temperature (hypothermia) or a febrile illness. A core body temperature taken rectally or through other specialized means in the hospital is the most accurate means to determine body temperature. Although normal body temperature varies somewhat, the average normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius.

Blood tests that can help to diagnose an underlying disease, disorder or condition include a chemistry panel, which measures the levels of important electrolytes in the blood, including sodium (salt) and can help to evaluate if dehydration is present and help confirm a diagnosis of heat exhaustion.

To determine if anemia is causing cold skin, a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) is done to measure the numbers of the different types of blood cells in the blood. Low amounts of red blood cells are indicative of anemia.

Cold skin due to frostbite or frost nip can generally be diagnosed with a visual exam combined with a history of exposure to cold.

To determine if hypothyroidism is causing cold skin, blood tests are performed to determine levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and the thyroid hormone thyroxine. High levels of TSH and low levels of thyroxine indicate hypothyroidism.

Other tests may be performed to check for potential complications of diseases, disorders and conditions that can underlie cold skin. For example, untreated hypothyroidism can result in heart disease.

An arterial blood gas test is generally performed in cases of suspected metabolic acidosis or respiratory acidosis, which can cause cold skin. This blood test measures the acid-base balance in the body and the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders of cold skin. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include additional blood tests, culture and sensitivity tests, EKG, and imaging tests, such as chest X-ray, which can reveal pneumonia.

A diagnosis of the disease, disorder or condition that underlies cold skin can easily be delayed or missed because cold skin may be mild or not believed to be a symptom of a serious condition. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of cold skin.

Treatment of cold skin involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of cold skin....more »

Cold skin: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing cold skin and its underlying cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, cold skin may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. Some forms of anemia progress slowly and do not result in dramatic symptoms for a long period of time. Some people who have hypothyroidism also have vague symptoms. In addition, it is not unusual for some people, ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Cold skin:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Cold skin. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Cold skin: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Cold skin

Home medical tests possibly related to Cold skin:

Causes of Types of Cold skin:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Cold skin:

Review causes of types of Cold skin in more specific categories:

Cold skin: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Cold skin, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Cold skin Treatments

Treatment plans for cold skin are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause and decreases the risk of developing serious complications.

The first step in treating cold skin ...Cold skin Treatments

Review further information on Cold skin Treatments.

Stories from Users for Cold skin

Real-life user stories relating to Cold skin:

Cold skin: Animations

Cold skin: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Cold skin may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Cold skin

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Cold skin:

Cold skin: Deaths

Read more about causes and Cold skin deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Cold skin

Sinusitis is overdiagnosed: There is a tendency to give a diagnosis of sinusitis, when the condition is really a harmless complication of another infection, more »

Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been immunized against whooping cough (also called "pertussis"), more »

Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often more »

Cold skin: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Detailed list of causes of Cold skin

The list below shows some of the causes of Cold skin mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Cold skin?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Cold skin. Of the 120 causes of Cold skin that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 1 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "common" diseases
  • 3 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 2 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 116 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Cold skin:

The following list of conditions have 'Cold skin' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Cold skin or choose View All.

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Causes of Cold skin Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Cold skin based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Cold skin:

    Subtypes of Cold skin:

    Clammy skin (73 causes), Skin, clammy (18 causes), Clamminess (9 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Cold skin:

    Chills (1045 causes), Skin symptoms (5992 causes), Skin problems (3422 causes), Fever (2274 causes), Sweat symptoms (1699 causes), Temperature symptoms (2497 causes), Sensory symptoms (7134 causes), Neurological symptoms (9575 causes), Nerve symptoms (9132 causes), Pain (6458 causes), Sensations (6520 causes), Brain symptoms (2787 causes), Common symptoms (8589 causes), Body symptoms (5672 causes), Sick (5751 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes)

    Symptoms related to Cold skin:

    Cold feet (26 causes), Cold ankles (8 causes), Poor circulation (1579 causes), Cold calf (10 causes), Cold environment, Shock (259 causes), Hypovolemic shock, Frost bite (8 causes)

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Evidence Based Medicine Research for Cold skin

    Medical research papers related to Cold skin include:

    Research More Evidence-Based Medicine at

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Cold skin:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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