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Cold nose: Causes, symptoms, and how to get warm

A person can have a cold nose for several reasons besides. Often, it is not a cause for worry. But, in some cases, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition.

What causes a cold nose?

There are various reasons why someone might have a cold nose. They include:

The body’s response to cold

The body conserves heat and energy by reducing blood flow to the extremities in cold temperatures or weather. Instead, the blood is directed toward the vital organs to keep them warm and to allow them to function properly.

The reduced blood flow to the hands, feet, ears, and nose causes them to feel cooler than, for example, the stomach or chest, as a result.

The nose is likely to feel cold first when temperatures dip because it is composed mainly of cartilage tissue and does not have a lot of insulating fat.

Underactive thyroid

An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the hormones that control the way the body uses energy.

Metabolism slows to conserve heat and energy without this hormone. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism, aside from sensitivity to cold, include:

  • tiredness
  • muscle aches and weakness
  • weight gain
  • dry and scaly skin
  • brittle hair and nails
  • slow movements and thoughts
  • pain, numbness, and tingling in hands and fingers

An autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease damages the thyroid gland and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Other causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • surgical removal of the thyroid gland
  • congenital hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid is present at birth
  • inflammation of the thyroid or thyroiditis

People who have a cold nose when the weather turns chilly can keep warm by doing the following:

  • layering clothes for extra warmth
  • wearing hats or balaclavas to reduce heat loss from the head
  • wearing scarves to prevent exposure of the nose to the cold
  • using gloves or mittens and suitable footwear with warm socks

All these methods help keep the body warm and the blood flowing to the extremities, including the nose.


People who think their cold nose could be caused by hypothyroidism should see a doctor. A physical examination and blood tests can determine if they have the disorder. Treatment involves taking thyroid hormone medication.

Raynaud’s disease

There is no cure for Raynaud’s disease and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Adopting simple lifestyle changes can, however, help avoid triggering an attack.

These changes include:

  • Wearing warm clothing when in cold temperatures.
  • Using gloves or mittens when taking food out of the refrigerator or freezer if this causes a reaction.
  • Putting hand and foot warmers in mittens, boots, socks, or pockets.
  • Warming up a vehicle before driving in cold weather.
  • Taking medicines that improve blood flow to fingers and toes or surgery in some cases.

Some medicines, such as beta-blockers and certain migraine drugs, can cause attacks. People should consult a doctor if this is the case.


People who show symptoms of hypothermia, frostnip or frostbite should seek medical treatment immediately.

If someone shows visible signs of hypothermia, they should be immediately moved into a warm room or shelter. Any clothing that is wet should be taken off, and the individual should be kept dry and wrapped in a warm blanket.

They should be given a warm beverage to help increase their body temperature, but this must not include any alcohol.

People who show signs of frostnip or frostbite should not be allowed to walk, as this may damage the tissue of their feet or toes if these are affected.

Their cold bodies should not be rubbed or massaged, and heating pads or heat lamps should not be used either. They can be helped to immerse the affected areas of their body in warm, but not hot, water.

According to a 2012 survey, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a main source of stress.

Those who think their cold nose is caused by work-related stress can take steps to manage these pressures.

These steps include:

  • Developing healthful responses: Turn to exercise or a hobby instead of fast food or alcohol when dealing with stress at work.
  • Establishing work-life boundaries: Do not check work email in the evening.
  • Get support: From friends and family or stress management resources if offered by the employer.
  • Take time to recharge: Take a vacation to relax and unwind.


A cold nose should not be a cause for worry in many instances. It is normal for a nose to feel cold during chilly weather. It may simply mean someone needs to wrap up more when the temperatures drop.

A constantly cold nose could, however, be a sign of an underlying health condition, even in warm weather. It is recommended to see a doctor if the symptoms continue and cause pain and discomfort.

People should avoid smoking as this narrows the arteries and makes clots more likely to form, which can cause circulation problems, a heart attack, or stroke.

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