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Skin discoloration - bluish
Alternative namesLips - bluish; Fingernails - bluish; Cyanosis; Bluish lips and fingernails; Bluish skin
DefinitionCyanosis is a bluish discoloration of the skin or mucous membranes caused by lack of oxygen in the blood. See also skin color - patchy .
Skin coloration is determined by the amount of pigment in the skin and the blood flowing through it. Blood that is saturated with oxygen is bright red. Blood that has lost its oxygen is dark bluish-red. People who have a large quantity of blood deficient in oxygen tend to take on a bluish discoloration called cyanosis.
Many people get brief bluish-purplish painful color changes in their fingers -- this is called Raynaud's Syndrome which results from spasm of blood vessels in the hands, often in response to the cold. Some people with Raynaud's Syndrome also have a collagen-vascular disease called scleroderma.
Home CareFor cyanosis caused by exposure to cold, dress warmly when going outside or stay in a well-heated room.
Call your health care provider if
Call your health care provider if you have any unexplained changes in the color of your skin or mucous membranes.
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination , which includes listening to your breathing and heart sounds. In emergency situations (such as shock ), the patient will be stabilized first.
Medical history questions may include:
Update Date: 5/5/2003David A. Kaufman, M.D., Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT