Are blotchy and purplish hands and feet normal?

Q: My daughter just turned one but she still seems to have poor circulation. Her hands and feet often are freezing cold and look blotchy and purplish. Just recently her lips were discolored. I have my heat set at 70 degrees normally but now have it set to 71 or 72. Most of the time her feet and hands return to a normal color but still... Is this normal?

A: Generally skin color changes from pink to blue or purple when the area is cold or is not receiving enough oxygenated blood. Although abnormal in adults, the color and temperature change can be normal in children even up to a few years old. The color change is called acrocyanosis it may be related to the temperature in the room but may happen at other times as well, like when the child is upset.

If it is concerning to you, make an appointment for a complete physical examination. Your physician may choose to place a pulse oximiter on a finger or toe to ensure that the blood traveling to that extremity has adequate oxygen levels. If your physician has concerns about your child's heart or lung function they will refer you to a specialist.

Prompt evaluation by a physician is warranted if the child has central cyanosis which is blue color of the tongue, head or trunk, or any difficulty breathing associated with a color change as these may be signs of a true medical emergency.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown

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