Many people will experience cold feet at some point in their lives. Some causes are temporary and harmless, but others could indicate more serious health conditions.

What causes cold feet?

There are several different causes of cold feet. Sometimes, the simplest reason is a lack of warmth. If you’re in jeans and a t-shirt and your feet are bare, it makes sense that they may get cold first. However, there are other causes as well.

Poor circulation

This is one of the most common causes of cold feet. Poor circulation can make it difficult for enough warm blood to get to your feet regularly, keeping them cooler than the rest of your body.

Circulation problems can come as a result of a heart condition, where the heart struggles to pump blood through the body at a quick enough pace. Poor circulation can be the result of sitting too much from a sedentary lifestyle. If you sit at a desk all day for work, you may experience this. Smoking can also cause poor circulation.


Anemia develops when you have a shortage of red blood cells. This is another common cause of cold feet, especially in severe cases of anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia can occur even in otherwise very healthy people. It can be treated relatively easily with changes in diet and by taking supplements.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Diabetes can cause not only feet that are cold to the touch, but also feet that feel cold due to nerve damage. Other symptoms may include numbness or tingling in the feet. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of nerve damage in the feet, see your doctor, and take extra care to check them for cuts or injuries.


This condition occurs when the thyroid is underactive and doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This interferes with the body’s metabolism. Since metabolism controls both heartbeat and the body’s temperature, an underactive thyroid could contribute to reduced circulation and colder feet.

Other less common causes of cold feet include:

  • peripheral vascular disease, or narrowing of the arteries due to plaques
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon, where blood vessels spasm
  • arteriosclerosis
  • nerve damage from other causes

When should I see a doctor?

If you’ve noticed that you have cold feet, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

  • sores on your toes and fingers that are taking a long time to heal
  • fatigue
  • weight changes
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • any changes in your skin, such as a rash or skin thickening

You should also call your doctor right away if your feet feel cold but your skin doesn’t feel cold to the touch. This could be a symptom of a neurological condition.