Typically, the hemoglobin contained in red blood cells gives the blood flowing through the arteries its typical red color. The blood that circulates through the veins has a lower oxygen content, which changes the conformation of hemoglobin and causes our blood to become darker (purplish). The usual pink coloration of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet occurs due to the arterial blood and the transparency of your skin. However, some temporary or chronic conditions can cause your hands to turn purple. In the following FastlyHealarticle, we will explain in detail what are the leading causes of purple hands.
Table of Contents
Why do hands turn purple – Causes?
In general, the lack of adequate oxygenation of the hands, for any of the causes that we will review, would cause them to turn purple.
Six major causes cause this lack of oxygen in our hands; We will explain them in order of frequency in the following sections:
- Bad circulation
- Raynaud’s disease
- Achenbach’s syndrome
Hands purple from cold: vasospasm
We call vasospasm the phenomenon in which the arteries contract and close or decrease their diameter significantly and persistently. As a result, blood flow to the site where the vasospasm occurred is reduced.
The most common cause of vasospasm and purple hands is cold. In situations of intense cold (general or localized), the circulatory system responds by redistributing blood flow and causing vasospasm. This occurs first in the hands and feet, then in the face, and, later, in the limbs, starting with the places most distant from the body’s center. The goal is to conserve heat and restrict blood flow to the organs most necessary to preserve life: the heart, brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
The second reason for vasospasm is heat (including fever). In this case, your body responds with vasospasm to prevent the blood from overheating, thus allowing heat release from your body.
On rare occasions, vasospasm occurs severely in specific regions, causing a lot of pain in addition to the purple color. In these cases, it is essential to consult a doctor to resolve the situation through the use of nitrates and other medications that cause vasodilation.
Purple hands from poor circulation
Poor circulation caused by the alteration at the level of the arteries due to some diseases (arteriosclerosis, diabetes, etc.) can cause a phenomenon similar to that explained above.
Again, the purple coloration on the hands appears due to oxygen deficiency, only, in this case, there are some associated symptoms, such as:
- Delayed wound healing, among others.
Some drugs help restore circulation to a certain extent in affected areas. In addition, naturally, dark chocolate (due to its flavonoid content), turmeric, and ginkgo Biloba would also contribute to improving circulation. In the following article, you can see more foods to improve circulation.
Blue fingers from cyanosis
Cyanosis is the purple or blue coloration of the skin and mucous membranes, especially at the level of the nails, fingers, toes, and mouth, including the lips.
In this case, the purple or blue coloration is produced by a decrease in the levels of oxygen carried by the red blood cells in your blood. There is no alteration at the vascular level, but there is oxygen transport and supply to the tissues.
It can occur in patients with asthma attacks, with some disorder at the level of the lungs (respiratory failure from any cause), heart failure, and sepsis (infection of the whole body).
By supplying oxygen to the patient and treating the cause of the cyanosis, the blue discoloration of the hands is immediately corrected.
Purple and swollen hands from lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system attacks your tissues and organs. This causes a permanent state of inflammation that affects the joints, kidneys, skin, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
While there is no known cause for lupus, there are treatments that can help control the signs and symptoms. Lupus symptoms are erratic and may include fatigue, fever, pain, swelling or stiffness of the joints, a rash in butterfly wings on the face, skin lesions that worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity), and dry eyes, among others. It is characteristic that the hands turn purple when exposed to stress or cold.
The following article can learn more about lupus: types, symptoms, treatment, and recommendations.
Blue hands from Raynaud’s disease
It is a condition in which, in stressful situations or in response to cold, the hands, feet, and some other areas of the body will present a sensation of numbness. They will become harder than the rest of the body and change their coloration.
It is more common in women, and although it is not a disabling disease, it can affect the quality of life. Its cause is unknown.
In an attack, the first thing that happens is that the region turns white, then it begins to feel cold and numb, and finally, it turns purple.
To prevent seizures, the sufferer should bundle up properly when outdoors, warm up their car before getting into it, wear socks, and keep their home at a warmer temperature.
Achenbach’s Syndrome or Blue Finger Syndrome
Its cause is not known, and although it is a “benign” process, it affects the quality of life of those who suffer from it. It happens when a blood vessel is occluded (closed), and the territory of a finger is affected. It is not known what triggers the appearance of the phenomenon. It is more common in people over 65 years of age, especially if they have alterations in blood lipids (hypercholesterolemia, etc.).
The phenomena below are similar to those already explained for the other causes. Pain, swelling, and edema can render the hand immobile.
Symptoms include a sudden onset of severe pain, a burning sensation all over the finger, swelling and redness of the finger, and the appearance of blue or purple discoloration in hand or just the affected finger.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Purple hands: causes, we recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart, and circulation.
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.