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Acrocyanosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

  • Acrocyanosis is a condition that results in bluish or purple discoloration of the skin. It is caused by poor circulation or when there is not enough oxygen in the blood. Acrocyanosis can affect any area of the body but it is most commonly seen in the hand, feet nails, and lips. 
acrocyanosis newborn

  • Symptoms include coldness numbness and tingling in the affected areas. Treatment for acrocyanosis typically involves improving circulation.


What is acrocyanosis?

  • The term “acrocyanosis” comes from the Greek words “akros” (extreme) and “kyanos” (blue) (blue).
  • Acrocyanosis is a painless condition that causes your skin's microscopic blood vessels to tighten. This causes your hands and feet to turn blue. The blue tint is caused by a decrease in blood flow and oxygen going to your extremities through the restricted arteries (outer limbs).
  • Acrocyanosis is a common condition among newborns. The majority of those suffering from the illness are teenagers and young adults.
  • Acrocyanosis is classified into two types: primary and secondary. Cold temperatures and emotional stress have been linked to primary acrocyanosis.  Secondary acrocyanosis arises as a result of a variety of underlying disorders.


Symptoms of acrocyanosis

  • Extremities are most commonly afflicted by acrocyanosis. However, its symptoms might manifest in a variety of locations.
  • Primary acrocyanosis symptoms are symmetrical, affecting both hands or both feet. Secondary acrocyanosis symptoms frequently affect only one side, can be painful and can result in tissue loss.
  • Blue fingers or toes, cold, clammy, and sweaty hands and feet, reduced skin temperatures and blood flow, and swelling of hands and feet are the most typical signs of acrocyanosis.
  • Symptoms intensify in the cold and improve in the heat. When you shift your hands from a hanging position to a horizontal position, the color of your fingers returns to normal.
  • According to specialists, most babies exhibit blue hands and feet shortly after birth and during the first few hours.
  • The acrocyanosis symptoms may reappear when the baby is cold or fresh out of a bath. In infants, however, the condition does not last.


Acrocyanosis Causes

    1. Primary acrocyanosis

  • Primary acrocyanosis is caused by the constriction of small blood vessels. The flow of oxygen-rich blood to your extremities is reduced as a result. This constriction, or vasospasm, could occur for a variety of reasons, including living at a high altitude with a mix of lower oxygen pressure, increased wind, and cold a genetic defect that damages your blood vessels.
  • As neonates adjust to the difference in blood circulation between the womb and the outside world, they may exhibit symptoms of acrocyanosis. Initially, oxygen-rich blood is directed towards the brain and other organs rather than the hands and feet.
  • However, unless more research is conducted, it will be difficult to confirm the real cause of acrocyanosis.


    2. Secondary acrocyanosis

  • Acrocyanosis may be the first symptom of another disease in some circumstances.
  • Secondary acrocyanosis can be caused by a variety of factors, including Infections caused by vascular diseases, blood problems, cancers, Genetic disorders, and some medicines.



  • Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms before performing a physical examination. They will base your primary acrocyanosis diagnosis on your hands and feet.
  • A capillaroscopy, a noninvasive procedure that evaluates circulation in the small capillaries of your nail bed, may also be ordered by your doctor.
  • Other tests may be performed to rule out Raynaud's phenomenon and chilblains, two disorders that also cause bluish extremities. A "normal" pulse means that the blue hue was not caused by an artery illness that reduced blood circulation.
  • If your doctor suspects secondary acrocyanosis, he will order more laboratory tests and imaging to diagnose the underlying condition.



  • If you have acrocyanosis you may be treated with medication physical therapy or

    1. Primary acrocyanosis

  • The vast majority of persons with primary acrocyanosis will not need therapy.
  • Primary acrocyanosis has no conventional treatment. Few clinical trials have investigated therapy efficacy.
  • However, when it comes to managing acrocyanosis, clinicians typically employ some of the following strategies:
  • Patience and reassurance
  • According to the medical literature, it is critical for clinicians to convince their patients that the illness is not dangerous.

        1. Warming solutions 

  •  Acrocyanosis is frequent in infants and is not very dangerous.  Warming the baby is an effective treatment for newborns and infants. 
  • A healthcare practitioner will most likely advise you to keep your hands and feet warm indoors and to protect yourself from frigid temperatures.

        2. Medicines

  • Medicines.  To alleviate symptoms in persons with severe acrocyanosis, doctors have utilized alpha-blocker and calcium channel blocker medications, topical nicotinic acid derivatives, or minoxidil.

    2. Secondary acrocyanosis

  • Acrocyanosis symptoms may improve if the underlying condition is treated.
  • If your symptoms are caused by a medicine, you should consult your doctor about other treatments if you are concerned about acrocyanosis and other side effects.


If you have any questions about acrocyanosis or if you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms be sure to talk to your doctor. they will be able to give you a more accurate diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment.


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