The key difference between cyanosis and acrocyanosis is that cyanosis is a condition that causes bluish discolouration of both body extremities and central body parts, while acrocyanosis is a type of cyanosis that causes bluish discolouration only in body extremities.
Cyanosis is a bluish or purple hue in the skin or mucous membranes. Cyanosis usually indicates decreased oxygen levels attached to red blood cells in the bloodstream. Cyanosis can be divided into acrocyanosis (blue discolouration in the body extremities) and central cyanosis (blue discolouration in central body parts).
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Cyanosis
3. What is Acrocyanosis
4. Similarities – Cyanosis and Acrocyanosis
5. Cyanosis vs. Acrocyanosis in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Cyanosis vs. Acrocyanosis
What is Cyanosis?
Cyanosis is a condition characterized by a bluish discolouration of the skin or mucous membranes, particularly affecting body extremities such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and central body parts such as the mouth, head, and torso. The symptoms of cyanosis are bluish discolouration in the skin, low body temperature, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and weakness. Cyanosis is normally caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood due to airway problems, lung problems, heart problems, wearing clothes that are too tight, which limit circulation, exposure to extreme cold, Raynaud’s phenomenon, medications (high blood pressure medicines), seizures, drug overdose, and toxic exposure.
Cyanosis can be diagnosed through physical examination, pulse oximetry, arterial blood gas analysis, chest X-ray, chest computed tomography (CT) scan, complete blood count, echocardiogram, pulmonary function tests, and cardiac catheterization. Furthermore, cyanosis can be treated through oxygen therapy with ventilators, warmth and massages, antibiotics for infections, medications for heart and lung conditions, discontinuing medication, inhalers, and surgery for heart conditions.
What is Acrocyanosis?
Acrocyanosis is a type of cyanosis characterized mainly by dusky, mottled bluish discolouration only of body extremities, particularly the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Occasionally, the discolouration can be present in the face. Occlusive arterial disease, hypoxemia, connective tissue diseases, neoplasms, eating disorders and malnutrition, hematological disorders, drugs and toxins, infections, atopic dermatitis, heritable diseases, infancy, Buerger disease, spinal cord injury, atrophic rhinitis, and psychological reasons can cause acrocyanosis. Moreover, the symptoms of this condition may include blue discolouration of fingers and toes, which may extend to include hands, feet, and face, hyperhidrosis of hands and feet, cold hands and feet, swelling of digits, pain, and tissue damage (blue toe syndrome).
Clinical diagnosis of acrocyanosis is based on physical examination, pulse oximetry, urinalysis, full blood count, standard biochemistry tests such as liver and kidney function, Streptococcal titres, autoantibodies detection, immunoglobulins and plasma electrophoresis, complement studies, chest X-ray, arterial and venous blood gas measurements, skin biopsy, and nailfold capillaroscopy. Furthermore, acrocyanosis can be treated through oxygen therapy, behavioural therapy, psychophysiological therapy, bioflavonoids, nicotinic acid derivatives, adrenergic blockers, topical minoxidil, cyclandelate, rutin compounds, bromocriptine, and sympathectomy.
What are the Similarities Between Cyanosis and Acrocyanosis?
- Cyanosis and acrocyanosis are associated conditions.
- In fact, acrocyanosis is a type of cyanosis.
- Both conditions are triggered by low oxygen in the blood.
- Both conditions may have similar symptoms, such as bluish discolouration in body parts.
- These conditions can be diagnosed through physical examination, pulse oximetry, blood tests, etc.
- They can be treated through supportive oxygen therapy.
What is the Difference Between Cyanosis and Acrocyanosis?
Cyanosis is a condition that causes bluish discolouration of both body extremities and central body parts, while acrocyanosis is a type of cyanosis that causes bluish discolouration only in body extremities. Thus, this is the key difference between cyanosis and acrocyanosis. Furthermore, cyanosis can be life-threatening, whereas acrocyanosis is not normally life-threatening.
The infographic below presents the differences between cyanosis and acrocyanosis in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Cyanosis vs. Acrocyanosis
People who have low oxygen in their blood tend to have a bluish colour in their skin. It is a condition called cyanosis. Acrocyanosis and central cyanosis are two types of cyanosis. In cyanosis, bluish discolouration of the skin or mucous membranes happens in both body extremities, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, and central body parts, such as the mouth, head, and torso. In acrocyanosis, dusky, mottled, bluish discolouration happens only in the body extremities, particularly the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. So, this summarises the difference between cyanosis and acrocyanosis.