Why do fingers swell during cold winters?

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From the website of Dermatology New Zealand I learned the following:

Chilblains are due to the constriction of blood vessels in cold conditions. Cold causes constriction of the small arteries and veins in the skin to reduce heat dissipation. This is normal and temporary in nature. However, rewarming after cold exposure may result in leakage of blood into the tissues and swelling of the skin. This can occur several hours after exposure to the cold in temperate humid climates. It can be aggravated by sun exposure.

Chilblains are less common in countries where the cold is more extreme because the air is drier and people have specially designed living conditions and clothing.

Chilblains are more likely to develop in people with poor peripheral circulation. Other contributing factors include genetic predisposition, diabetes, smoking and connective tissue disease such as lupus erythematosus.

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Bhavesh
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Bhavesh

I am just a curious student. I love physics and astrophysics. Right now I am not professionally trained as I am just 13 years old. But in the future i would like to become a great physicist like Albert Einstein.

Updated on August 13, 2022

Comments

  • Bhavesh
    Bhavesh 2 months

    When exercising, tissue in the hands may swell. This may be caused by the muscles generating heat, which leads to blood being pushed to the vessels closest to the surface of your body to dissipate the heat. This response triggers perspiration and may contribute to hand swelling (Mayo Clinic).

    This all makes sense. But why do fingers swell during the winter in freezing temperatures? It is referred to as chillbains and may affect the toes as well. See the following picture of chillbains affecting the fingers:

    enter image description here

    • Nandor Poka
      Nandor Poka over 7 years
      I'm voting to close because you asked the same question once and that has been put on hold, Please edit your original question so clarify, so that can be reopened. The original, practically identical question: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/31679/…
    • Bhavesh
      Bhavesh over 7 years
      I have edited what else
    • Nandor Poka
      Nandor Poka over 7 years
      Well, I've re-read your original post, and as @WYSIWYG said in the comments you already tagged blood circualtion and you also mention this in your post. It is most likely because of that. So you have most likely answered your own question in your post. Also I don't remember experiencin such phenomenon, although I've never watched closely. So this claim stands on personal / anecdotal evidence. If you could provide some reference, that this is indeed a common thing that would help. Also details on how exactly does the swelling happens would be a plus.
    • AliceD
      AliceD over 7 years
      The reason for the swelling is the question @poka.nandor so providing that as detail would answer the question...
    • Nandor Poka
      Nandor Poka over 7 years
      continue: if you could provide a more clear focus on what you're interested in more than "or what?". Basically if we simply things enough most things in our body happen because of blood circulation.... your cells respireI'd suggest something like: "I suspect it is because of increased blood ciriculation. Can anyone confrim? If it is the case why is there increased blood flow and how does it cause swelling."
    • Nandor Poka
      Nandor Poka over 7 years
      @AliceD well yes, I misphrased that part. i meant the conditions when the swelling occurs, like after how much time, touching anything cold, doing any exercises, or just in general standing in the cold, does it happen when gloves are put on or only when the OP is barehanded etc.
    • AliceD
      AliceD over 7 years
      Question edited. @Bhavesh - if this question edit is not to your liking please feel free to roll back.
    • rotaredom
      rotaredom almost 5 years
      @NandorPoka it may be personal / anecdotal, but it definitely happens. Come to Canada during January, and I'll show you. ;) I've observed that the degree to which it happens is directly related to the speed at which you heat up the fingers. For instance, if you stay out in the cold for a while and get them a bit wet, then come in and run warm water over them to heat them up, they'll almost definitely swell - frequently to the point of being painful.