Why Do My Fingertips Turn Purple When It’s Cold?

December 1, 2023

If you have ever been somewhere cold and looked at your fingernails, you may have seen your fingers turning a slight purple tint. Although in most cases, seeing your limbs turn purple would be alarming, this is actually a very common and relatively harmless condition. Learn more about why your fingertips turn purple when you’re cold. Visit AFC Urgent Care Paramus for same-day illness diagnosis & treatment without an appointment.

What Causes Your Fingertips to Turn Purple?

During the winter months when the weather is colder, we need to dress appropriately for the weather to ensure that we are protecting our bodies and staying warm. If you look down at your hands and notice that your fingertips, more specifically your nail beds, are turning a little purple, it can be an indication that your body is cold and trying to prioritize keeping your organs warm rather than your extremities.

Although it may be alarming to see your nailbeds turn purple, this is a natural occurrence that can occur simply due to exposure to the cold and does not always indicate an underlying medical condition. However, there are certain chronic conditions that can cause this to occur more easily or more frequently in some people.

Should You Seek Medical Care If Your Fingers Turn Purple?

Although it can be a sign that something is seriously wrong, if your nail beds are slightly purple when cold it is usually a harmless symptom of being cold. However, if your nail beds don’t turn back to a normal color within a couple of hours, or the discoloration spreads, you may be suffering from frostbite and should seek immediate medical care to prevent permanent damage.

There are two main reasons that your fingertips turn slightly purple when its cold outside:

Cyanosis: Cyanosis is the bluing of the skin and lips due to an underlying condition affecting the heart, lungs, or blood. The change in skin color occurs due to oxygen not reaching the hemoglobin in your bloodstream. This condition can be caused by a variety of illnesses and conditions, such as pneumonia. It requires a medical diagnosis and treatment.

Raynaud's phenomenon: This is a condition that causes the blood vessels in your extremities to constrict, which limits blood flow and often causes purple or white hands in addition to numbness in your extremities. The cause of this condition is undetermined among medical professionals, however, it can be prevented through lifestyle changes such as carrying hand warmers and wearing gloves.

Get Same-Day Illness & Injury Treatment By Visiting AFC Urgent Care Paramus

If you’re concerned about discoloration in your limbs, you should always seek urgent medical care. At AFC Urgent Care Paramus, our state-of-the-art facility is equipped with an on-site laboratory and X-ray suite which will allow us to quickly diagnose your condition and treat it if necessary. When you need quality medical care quickly, AFC Urgent Care Paramus is here to help. We never require an appointment to be seen by our medical providers. Simply walk in, or schedule an appointment online.

Whether you need urgent medical care, or in search of preventative healthcare services, AFC Urgent Care Paramus is ready to provide comprehensive healthcare without the long wait times or expensive costs associated with the emergency room. Our medical providers are board-certified and available to accept walk-in patients 7 days a week. We accept most medical insurance plans, including Medicare, and offer low-cost treatment for patients paying out of pocket for their care. For additional questions regarding our clinic, please contact us directly.

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