Does Cold Weather Harm the Hands?

cold-hurts-handsWhen we opt to not wear mittens in cold weather, we often don’t realize the negative impact it can have on our hands. In fact, when our hands are repeatedly exposed to cold temperature it leads to both a loss of dexterity and tactile sensitivity. A study done in Taiwan tested the effects of cold on 24 healthy right-handed participants, twelve male and twelve female. The study came up with the following results:

  • A reduction of up to 55% in gross and fine motor dexterities;
  • A reduction of about 12% in grip strength;
  • A significant reduction in the amount of feeling that was able to be felt by the hands; and
  • A significant increase in the amount of pain that was able to be felt by the nerve endings in the hand.

While the short-term effect of cold on the hands is minimal, long exposure to the cold can lead to frostbite on the hands. If the hands are exposed to frostbite, some of the long-term effects are:

  • Increased sensitivity to the cold;
  • Dry skin;
  • Numbness;
  • Stiffness;
  • Pain.