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What may increase your risk for problems from cold temperature exposure

Many conditions, lifestyle choices, medications, and diseases interfere with your ability to heal or fight infection. You may be at risk for a more serious problem from your symptoms if you have any of the following. Be sure to tell your health professional.


  • Babies and older adults
  • A history of cold injury. Damage to the skin may happen more quickly in areas that had a cold injury in the past.
  • Familial cold autoinflammatory syndrome (FCAS), a genetic condition also known as cold urticaria or cold-induced hives
  • Conditions that may change your mental awareness, such as:
    • Mental illness
    • Drug or alcohol use or withdrawal
    • Alzheimer's disease or dementia
  • Conditions that affect body temperature regulation, such as:
    • Hypopituitarism
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Hypoadrenalism
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Wernicke's encephalopathy
    • Stroke
    • History of a head injury
    • Poor nutrition or low body fat
    • Skin diseases or injury, such as burns
    • Parkinson's disease
  • Conditions that slow the body's ability to make heat (metabolism), such as:
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Hypopituitarism
    • Adrenal gland disorders
  • A problem or condition present since birth (congenital defect)
  • A history of surgery to an area that had a cold injury
  • Living in poverty or being homeless
  • Immobility. If you are not able to move normally, your body does not make heat as well and you may feel colder.

Lifestyle choices

  • Alcohol abuse or withdrawal
  • Drug abuse or withdrawal
  • Smoking or other tobacco use
  • Heavy caffeine use


  • Blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, heparin, and aspirin
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Medications to prevent organ transplant rejection
  • Other medications, such as heart, high blood pressure, antidepressant, or tranquilizer medications


  • Arteritis
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hemophilia
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • Kidney disease
  • Lupus
  • Malnutrition or an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Peripheral neuropathies
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Raynaud's phenomenon
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Skin diseases
Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Paul S. Auerbach, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Updated May 20, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 20, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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