Are Blue Feet Always Due to Frostbite?

Acrocyanosis is a persistent blue discoloration of the extremities, most commonly occurring in the hands, although it also occurs in the feet and some parts of the face.  Unfortunately, the reason behind the disorder is still unknown. In general, acrocyanosis does not require medical treatment. A medical emergency would ensue if the extremities experience prolonged periods of exposure to the cold, particularly in children and patients with poor general health. This emergency is commonly known as frostbite. However, frostbite differs from acrocyanosis because pain often accompanies frostbite, while the acrocyanosis is very rarely associated with pain. There are also a number of other conditions that affect hands, feet, and parts of the face that can cause skin color changes. The diagnosis may be challenging in some cases, especially when these syndromes from other disorders co-exist. Due to many different conditions causing skin discoloration, it is important to see a podiatrist right away if the feet begin to turn blue.


Acrocyanosis is usually diagnosed by a medical professional such as a podiatrist. A podiatrist will use a medical history and a physical examination to help determine the cause. Laboratory studies or imaging studies are not necessary. Unlike the closely related Raynaud's Disease, skin discoloration is continually persistent. In addition, there is usually no localized pain or ulcerations.

Acrocyanosis may be a sign of a more serious medical problem, such as:

  • Certain blood clotting syndromes
  • Abnormal blood proteins
  • Tumors in the respiratory tract
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Infections
  • Toxicities
  • Signs and Symptoms

Acrocyanosis is categorized by skin discoloration, especially of the extremities such as the feet. The feet are often cold and clammy and may display some swelling. This tends to be even more predominant in warm weather. The palms and soles begin to sweat moderately or profusely depending on the case. Exposure to cold temperatures worsens the discoloration of the skin. The disorder does not usually have any other symptoms. The most common sign, discoloration, usually is what prompts patients to seek medical care.


There is no standard medical or surgical treatment for acrocyanosis. If the discoloration is due to an underlying medical condition, it is recommended that the underlying medical condition is treated to help relieve the discoloration of the skin.

If your feet are blue and you are uncertain why it is important to call a podiatrist to rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing the discoloration. Call Achilles Foot and Ankle Surgery, PC located in Martins Ferry, Ohio and St. Clairsville, Ohio, as well as Wheeling West Virginia. There Dr. Bruce G. Blank can help you determine why your feet are blue. Call 740-633-4188 or make an appointment online today.