Blue or grey skin or lips (cyanosis)

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

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

If you have cyanosis, you may notice a blue or grey colour on your:

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 or grey

On black or brown skin this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.

You or your child may also have:

  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain

These are signs of a serious medical problem.

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

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

This may be a sign of poor blood circulation.

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Causes of blue or grey skin or lips (cyanosis)

Blue or grey skin or lips (cyanosis) happens when 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 or grey 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