Cyanosis: Symptoms and Treatment

Cyanosis of the skin and mucous membranes is the appearance of an unnatural cyanotic shade in certain areas of the body and mucous membranes, which can occur both in the child and in the adult. According to medical research, this pathological condition is caused by the fact that there is an increased amount of pathological hemoglobin in the blood, which makes its color look like blue. At the same time, insufficient oxygen saturation with blood is noted, as a result of which blood is not supplied in the right volume to certain areas of the body, which causes cyanosis of the skin and mucous membranes.

In some cases, this pathological condition is extremely difficult, since it is accompanied by suffocation. And if the patient is not able to provide medical assistance in time, the risk of his death is high.

Species and causes

The most common phenomenon is acrocyanosis, characterized by a change in the color of the skin on the distal parts of the trunk, that is, the limbs, the face. Acrocyanosis predominantly develops in patients with cardiac pathology and may be evidence of the development of a child or adult heart failure. In adults, acrocyanosis is also a sign of the development of atherosclerosis, vegetovascular dystonia, varicose veins and some other pathologies. But also pathology occurs in infants without anomalies in the development of the cardiovascular system.

Cyanosis is localized in this type of pathology on the hands and feet, on the ears, the tip of the nose and lips. For infants the first days of life, acrocyanosis is a normal phenomenon, since its lungs have not yet begun to function at full capacity, which is manifested by insufficient supply of blood with oxygen. Acrocyanosis is more pronounced when the child cries, exerts excessive efforts during feeding or is worried.

It is important to understand that there are different varieties of this pathological condition. So, in medical practice one speaks of central and local cyanosis. Central cyanosis develops in those cases when arterial blood is not sufficiently saturated with oxygen, which happens in severe diseases, such as respiratory failure, erythrocytosis, heart defects and others. This condition may indicate the need for urgent medical care for a person. This variety is also called diffuse cyanosis, and it has the highest degree of severity.

With local cyanosis, impaired blood circulation is observed in a localized area due to local blood circulation disorders. This form of pathology is observed in places of increased accumulation of blood vessels — around the mouth, around the eyes.

The local form is called peripheral cyanosis. The causes of this form of the disease can be the following pathological conditions:

  • slowing blood flow in the capillaries due to thrombophlebitis or squeezing them with a tumor
  • poisoning and intoxication of the body
  • heart and vascular disease;
  • Tuberculosis and pneumonia that prevent sufficient intake of oxygen into the blood
  • deformation of the chest as a result of a traumatic injury with impaired respiratory function

Cyanosis of the nasolabial triangle is often diagnosed in infants, which indicates the developmental defects of the lungs, heart and neuralgia.

In general, peripheral cyanosis is more common in medical practice than central cyanosis, because the causes of its cyanosis are much greater.


If the patient has a form of pathology such as acrocyanosis, which is predominantly found in infants, the symptoms will consist in blueening of the nails, phalanges of the fingers and soles of the baby, ears and nasolabial triangle, including mucous membranes. Cyanosis of the mucous membranes, nails and skin can be weakly expressed or strongly expressed — and the more pronounced it is, the heavier the child’s condition, which indicates acute respiratory failure.

Very often cyanosis of the nasolabial triangle, as well as peripheral cyanosis, occur in people with pathological conditions such as:

  1. cramps;
  2. epileptic seizure;
  3. anaphylactic shock
  4. Pneumothorax;
  5. drug overdose;
  6. foodborne disease.

Symptoms of the pathological condition, manifested by cyanosis of the skin, nails and mucous membranes, differ depending on the type of disorder that caused acrocyanosis. So, with lung or bronchial diseases, cyanosis of the lips, nasolabial triangle and mucous membranes is manifested by the dark-violet color of this area, which indicates lack of oxygen.

Heart disease also causes acrocyanosis, but the clinical picture is complemented by other symptoms, such as:

  • thickening of finger phalanges by the type of drumsticks
  • wet wheezing
  • hemoptysis
  • shortness of breath.

Cyanosis of the extremities occurs in the peripheral form of pathology, and is diagnosed quite often both in adults and in children. At the same time, cyanosis in newborns, as already mentioned above, can be both pathological and physiological in nature, therefore, medical assistance to infants is required only when cyanosis is strongly pronounced and does not pass for a long time.


Acrocyanosis and other varieties of this pathological condition are not a disease in themselves. This is just a symptom of serious pathology in the body of a child or an adult, so when this symptom appears, diagnostics is important. First of all, if a child or an adult has a cyanosis of the face, the respiratory system is checked for him, revealing the reasons for the lack of oxygen in the blood. If the child is diagnosed with acrocyanosis, that is, blueing of the extremities, mucous membranes, nails — diagnoses first of all violations in the work of the cardiovascular system.

The main tests that are assigned to patients with suspected acrocyanosis are:

  1. A blood test is common;
  2. blood gas analysis
  3. blood flow velocity analysis
  4. pulse oximetry

Then, taking into account complaints and symptoms, as well as these analyzes, such methods of research as electrocardiography, chest CT, chest X-ray can be prescribed.

Treatment features

Acrocyanosis, as already mentioned above, is a symptom of the pathological state of internal organs. Therefore, treatment in this case will be aimed at eliminating the underlying disease that caused cyanosis of the face, extremities, mucous membranes or nails.

One of the methods used to treat this pathological condition is oxygen therapy, in which the patient is allowed to inhale oxygen, thereby increasing his concentration in the blood. Oxygen therapy is used in conjunction with other measures to treat cardiac or respiratory failure that causes acrocyanosis.

Medication is also used — prescribe drugs that improve blood flow and increase the saturation of capillaries. These drugs include:

  • antihypoxicants;
  • bronchodilators
  • respiratory analeptics;
  • cardiac glycosides and some other medicines that are prescribed by the doctor.

Unfortunately, in most cases, treatment will be ineffective if acrocyanosis in a child or adult has developed due to cardiac pathologies. In such situations, only surgical treatment is effective, especially often used in infants born with heart abnormalities.