What is Peripheral Cyanosis?

In Peripheral Cyanosis, which is caused by inadequate circulation of oxygenated blood, the extremities turn blue. Peripheral Cyanosis can occur in the hands, fingertips, or feet. It can be caused by such easily remedied issues as tight jewelry or cold temperature, but the following 7 medical conditions are also causes of peripheral cyanosis:

  1. Heart Failure

With heart failure, the heart is unable to pump blood effectively. The areas farthest from the heart — the hands and feet — are the first to be affected by the decreased availability of oxygenated blood, which will make them turn blue.

  1. Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot formed in a vein deep in the leg. Since the clot blocks blood flow, it causes the feet to turn blue. DVTs can have other, extremely serious complications. Someone who suspects a DVT should see a doctor as soon as possible.

  1. Raynaud’s Disease

In Raynaud’s disease, blood vessels narrow, preventing proper blood flow to the extremities. A person with Raynaud’s disease will have blue, painful fingers and toes when the temperature drops. When the temperature then goes up and blood flow is restored, the fingers and toes will flush red.

Raynaud’s disease, though not life-threatening, can cause complications such as finger- and toe-deformity, gangrene, and skin ulcers.

  1. Low Blood Pressure

In cases of low blood pressure (hypotension), there may not be enough pressure for oxygenated blood to reach the extremities.

  1. Lymph System Problems

Lymphatic problems can prevent the lymph fluid from flowing properly. This can result in swelling (edema), which can hamper proper blood flow.

  1. Vein or Artery Problems

Issues such as venous insufficiency, peripheral vascular disease, or any blockage in the veins or arteries will prevent blood and oxygen from reaching the extremities, causing them to turn blue.

  1. Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person loses more than one-fifth of their body’s blood or fluid supply. It is typically caused by significant bleeding; however, the loss of body fluids can also decrease blood volume. Severe diarrhea or vomiting, severe burns, and even excessive sweating can cause hypovolemic shock. Hypovolemic shock is the most common type of shock, affecting primarily the elderly and the very young.

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