Blue toe syndrome

Blue toe syndrome, also known as acrocyanosis or cyanosis, is a condition that causes the toes and sometimes the fingers to turn blue due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. It is usually caused by reduced blood flow to the affected areas, which can be due to a variety of underlying medical conditions. The tissue may then become blue or purple because of this. Doctors refer to this as "blue finger syndrome" when it affects the fingers. Some sufferers of this illness only have one foot with a stained toe. Others could have had toes on both feet that were stained.


The most common cause of blue toe syndrome is peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition that occurs when the arteries that carry blood to the legs and feet become narrowed or blocked by plaque. This can lead to reduced blood flow to the toes, causing them to turn blue. Other causes of blue toe syndrome include:

  • Blood clots: Blood clots can block the flow of blood to the toes, causing them to turn blue.
  • Raynaud's disease: This is a condition that causes the blood vessels in the toes and fingers to narrow, reducing blood flow to these areas.
  • Cold temperatures: Cold temperatures can cause the blood vessels in the toes to constrict, leading to reduced blood flow and blue toes.
  • Vasculitis: This is a condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels, which can lead to reduced blood flow and blue toes.
  • Hypothermia: If the body's core temperature drops too low, it can lead to decreased blood flow to the toes, causing them to turn blue.


In most cases, blue toe syndrome is a symptom of an underlying medical condition and is not a standalone disorder. Treatment for blue toe syndrome will depend on the underlying cause, but may include medications to improve blood flow, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and improving diet and exercise, and surgery to remove plaque from the arteries.

It is important to see a doctor if you experience blue toes or any other unusual changes in the color of your toes or fingers. While blue toe syndrome is usually not a serious condition, it can be a sign of an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent more serious complications from developing.


It is also important to take good care of your feet to help prevent blue toe syndrome and other foot problems. This includes wearing shoes that fit well and protect your feet, washing your feet regularly, and checking your feet for cuts, sores, and other signs of injury or infection. If you have diabetes, it is especially important to check your feet regularly and to seek medical attention if you notice any changes in the color or sensation in your feet.


The clinical diagnosis of blue toe syndrome is made using the patient's medical history and physical exam results. To help with therapy, it's critical to identify the underlying causes of blue toe syndrome. The clinical examination typically provides hints, but more testing in the form of laboratory blood tests, tissue samples, and radiographic imaging is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.



Back to blog