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Acrocyanosis

by John W. Hallett, Jr., MD

Acrocyanosis is persistent, painless, symmetric cyanosis of the hands, feet, or face caused by vasospasm of the small vessels of the skin in response to cold.

Acrocyanosis usually occurs in women and is not associated with occlusive arterial disease. The digits and hands or feet are persistently cold and bluish, sweat profusely, and may swell. In acrocyanosis, unlike Raynaud syndrome, cyanosis persists and is not easily reversed, trophic changes and ulcers do not occur, and pain is absent. Pulses are normal.

Treatment, other than reassurance and avoidance of cold, is usually unnecessary. Vasodilators may be tried but are usually ineffective.

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