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Definition

What is acrocyanosis?

Acrocyanosis is a painless disorder that affects the arteries supplying blood to the skin of the hands and feet. These small arteries carry oxygen and nutrients through the blood to the skin of the extremities. Spasms in the arteries block blood flow in people with this condition. Without adequate blood supply, the skin lacks oxygen, which changes the skin color to a dark blue to purple color. This characteristic color is called cyanosis.

Acrocyanosis is generally a benign condition, but can be indicative of a serious medical illness elsewhere in the body, such as cardiovascular or connective tissue disease.

How common is acrocyanosis?

Acrocyanosis is not a common condition. It commonly affects more females than males. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of acrocyanosis?

Typical symptoms and signs of acrocyanosis of the hands or feet are persistently cold temperature and blue discoloration. They often feel sweaty or moist, and swelling may be present. The blue cyanosis usually appears worse upon exposure to cold, and improves upon warming. Rarely is there any pain associated. Normal arterial pulses are always present in the hands and feet since there is no blockage of the larger arteries of the arms or legs.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

 

Causes

What causes acrocyanosis?

When the blood cannot flow through, the skin will lack the necessary oxygen required, and turn a dark blue to purple color. This characteristic color is called cyanosis, hence the name acrocyanosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for acrocyanosis?

Please consult your doctor for further information.

 

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is acrocyanosis diagnosed?

Acrocyanosis is diagnosed clinically, based on a medical history and physical examination. The normal peripheral pulses rule out peripheral arterial occlusive disease, where arterial narrowing limits blood flow to the extremities. Pulse oximetry will show normal oxygen saturation. Unlike the closely related Raynaud’s phenomenon, cyanosis is continually persistent. In addition, there is usually no associated trophic skin changes, localized pain, or ulcerations. Capillaroscopy and other laboratory methods may be helpful but only complement clinical diagnosis in unclear cases, especially when they connective tissue disorders may be present. Imaging and laboratory testing are mandatory only in extremely severe cases.

How is acrocyanosis treated?

Generally, the treatment is a common sense approach to preventing cold exposure and keeping the feet dry. This may involve the use of insulated boots, thin polypropylene liner socks to wick the moisture away from the skin, and an insulated sock to maintain normal skin temperature.

Generally, no other treatment is necessary. In extreme cases a surgical procedure called a sympathectomy required to relax the persistent vasospasm. This surgery is recommended only in severe cases.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage acrocyanosis?

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

 

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 31, 2017 | Last Modified: October 31, 2017

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