Acrocyanosis

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Acrocyanosis

 

Acrocyanosis is a painless and persistent blue discoloration (cyanosis) of the face and extremities. If not caused by an underlying medical condition, the discoloration alone is benign.

 

Causes

Acrocyanosis is more commonly diagnosed in younger females. The cyanosis also tends to worsen in colder conditions, whereas warmer environments may cause it to abate slightly.

 

Disease pathway

Spasms of the blood vessels (vasospasms) near the skin in the extremities cause constriction of, and subsequently restricted blood flow through the vessels.

Decreased blood flow to the skin results in coolness of the extremities, while insufficient oxygen supply produces the characteristic cyanosis of the affected regions.

 

Symptoms and diagnosis

Acrocyanosis is characterized by:

·         Symmetric cyanosis of the face and extremities;

·         Coldness in the affected regions;

·         Normal pulse rate; and

·         The absence of associated pain.

Clinical diagnosis of acrocyanosis is done based on physical examination. Certain characteristics of acrocyanosis can be used to eliminate the possibility of similar, related conditions, such as Raynaud’s phenomenon, in which cyanosis is not persistent.

 

Treatment

Medical or surgical treatment for acrocyanosis is usually unnecessary. The patient may be reassured of the absence of serious illness, and advised to avoid cold environments where possible.

Some patients opt for treatment with drugs to induce widening (vasodilation) of the constricted blood vessels, although there is little, if any, solid evidence of their effectiveness.


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