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Blue skin or lips (cyanosis)

Blue skin or lips need to be checked urgently in hospital. See a GP if you have blue fingers or toes.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if you or your child's:

  • lips, tongue, face or skin suddenly turn blue/grey (or gums and round the eyes in darker skin)
  • breathing becomes difficult
  • chest hurts

These are signs of a serious medical problem.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you or your child's:

  • fingers, toes, hands or feet gradually turn blue

This could be the sign of a blood circulation problem.

Causes of cyanosis

Blue lips, skin, tongue (central cyanosis)

Blue or blue/grey skin on the face or over most of the body is usually a sign there's not enough oxygen in the blood because of a problem with the:

Blue hands, feet, limbs (peripheral cyanosis)

The limbs will also usually feel cold.

It happens when blood circulation is poor because of:

Sometimes it can also be caused by:

Treatment for cyanosis

Cyanosis is a symptom of many different conditions.

Treatment depends on the cause.