Human hand anatomy

Blue Hands


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What are blue hands?

Blue hands occur when the skin in the hands takes on a bluish tint or color. This generally is due to either a lack of oxygen in the blood or extremely cold temperatures. When the skin becomes a bluish color, the symptom is called cyanosis.

Most commonly, blue hands are caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. This may happen when you are at high altitude or if you are choking, or may be due to chronic underlying conditions such as lung diseases or chronic heart disease. A lack of oxygen in your blood will lead to a blue coloration of your skin that is most quickly seen in your hands, feet and lips.

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Blue hands are a serious symptom that can indicate a severe medical condition and should always be promptly evaluated by a medical professional.

Blue hands are a serious symptom that may be caused by a serious or life-threatening underlying condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience blue hands with other serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, fatigue, fainting or a change in level of consciousness or lethargy.

For blue hands not associated with other serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening situation, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 8, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Skin discoloration - bluish. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.