Blue skin or lips (cyanosis)

Cyanosis is where your skin or lips turn blue. It can be a sign of a serious problem.

How to tell if you have blue skin or lips (cyanosis)

You may notice a blue colour on your:

If you have dark skin, cyanosis may be easier to see:

Your hands and feet are usually a normal temperature unless you also have poor blood circulation.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your or your child's lips, tongue, face or skin suddenly turn blue

You or your child may also have:

  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain

These are signs of a serious medical problem.

Urgent advice: Call NHS 111 if:

  • your or your child's fingers, toes, hands and feet are blue

This may be a sign of poor blood circulation.

Causes of blue skin or lips (cyanosis)

Cyanosis can mean there's not enough oxygen in your blood, or you have poor blood circulation. It can be caused by a serious problem with the:

Other causes of cyanosis include:

Treatment for blue skin or lips (cyanosis)

Cyanosis is a symptom of many different conditions.

Treatment depends on the cause.

Page last reviewed: 28 August 2020
Next review due: 28 August 2023