Cyanosis

Also known as: blue lips, mouth, skin, and nail beds, skin discoloration.

What is cyanosis?

A bluish tinge of the lips, tongue, nail beds or skin is called cyanosis. There are 2 types: Central cyanosis and Acrocyanosis.

  • Central cyanosis occurs because of a lack of oxygen in the red cells of blood and is never normal.
  • Acrocyanosis is usually normal in babies and occurs when the extremities (hands and feet are cold), appear blue but not the lips, or tongue which normally appear pink in color.

What causes central cyanosis?

Oxygen is what gives blood its reddish color. When blood does not have enough oxygen, it turns a shade of blue, and the membranes or skin through which the blood flows also develops a bluish hue as a result.

Central cyanosis is usually caused by a number of abnormalities of the heart, lungs or blood.

What are the symptoms of central cyanosis?

Cyanosis is a symptom of an underlying medical problem. Symptoms are associated with the lack of oxygen to the body’s tissues and may include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and others.

What are central cyanosis care options?

Treatment is aimed at the underlying disease causing the cyanosis.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: June 30, 2021 02:47 PM

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