Cold agglutinin disease (CAD) is a rare autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks red blood cells when you’re cold. This can cause a symptom called Raynaud’s phenomenon, in which blood vessels of the extremities pinch off or constrict in cold temperatures. You might see your hands and feet turn white, or blotchy purple. If you stay in a cold environment for too long, your hands and feet might feel numb.
While normally more frightening than dangerous, it is important to prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon when possible, and warm up quickly if you have to be out in cold weather. Here are some tips for warming up quickly.
Wear lots of layers if you have to be outside
Stay warm outside with lots of layers, but as soon as you come inside, shed those layers so that you can warm up. Otherwise, cold clothes can prevent the heat from reaching and warming your body. If you’ve gotten wet while you were outside, strip off the wet layers first.
Wear mittens rather than gloves
Mittens keep your fingers warmer than do gloves while you’re outside. Again, take them off as soon as you’re inside to warm up more quickly.
Keep your feet warm outside with waterproof boots and warm socks.
Soak in warm water
Soak your hands and feet in warm water when coming in from the cold to help warm them. However, make sure that the water is comfortably warm and not hot, as hot water can damage areas with poor circulation.
Last updated: August 14, 2019
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