Blue Lips and Cold Hands in Children

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As parents, it’s our job to view our babies like hawks – and then invest hours Googling if something doesn’t seem rather right. If your child’s lips have suddenly turned blue, you’re likely heading into full-blown panic mode.

There’s great news and bad news, Moms. Sometimes blue lips in children are an innocent side effect of something totally typical. Other times a child with blue lips may need to see a doctor immediately. Here’s what the professionals say to assist direct you. Quite often blue lips in your children may occur after exercise, running, swimming, bath, eating, vomiting, surgery, sleeping, etc.

Typical blue lips in children: When not to worry

We’ll start with fortunately first. There are plenty of times when, as a parent, you can work yourself into a tizzy over nothing (no thanks to hours invested seeking advice from Dr. Google in the middle of the night), and blue lips may be one of them.

Prior to you panic and presume the worst, Dr. Janet Prystowsky, board-certified skin specialist and president of a dermatological surgery in midtown Manhattan, says, “A child’s lips might be blue for a few factors. Given that these factors vary from unbelievably mild to extremely severe, it’s important to eliminate the most likely and least dangerous causes first.”

Dr. Prystowsky advises asking yourself 2 vital questions prior to you head to the ER:

  • Did your child recently eat something blue? If your little kid or girl just had a bowl of blueberries, blackberries or blue-colored candy, then their lips are probably stained from the blue coloring. Blotting their lips with a warm, wet cloth should get rid of the majority of the color. Trying to rub or scrub their lips might irritate them, however.
  • Is it cold exterior? (And is your child damp?) If your child’s body temperature level drops to 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C (normal is 98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C), then their lips will turn blue. Swimming in an unheated pool, lake or ocean will cause a fairly quick transfer of heat from their body to the cold water. Playing outside in snow will also trigger blue lips if your child is outside too long. As your child’s core body temperature level drops, their body will try to preserve its heat by lowering blood flow to the skin and lips. This saves circulation for internal organs, like the heart, brain and others. If your child’s lips are blue, get them from the water or winter, and rapidly warm them.

However, even when it’s cold outside, there are still times when “regular” blue lips may be a cause for concern. Dr. Prystowsky states, “In the case of winter, watch for frostbite, which would imply your child’s skin has actually frozen. If your child’s skin feels numb after rewarming, then it’s most likely that they have frostbite. If frostbite has happened, look for immediate medical suggestions. If your child’s core temperature has dropped towards 82.4 degrees F or 28 degrees C, then you have to immediately remove them from the cold environment and seek medical help. Such a cold body temperature can cause a deadly arrhythmia of the heart when rewarming.”.

Abnormal blue lips and cold hands in children: Why and What to Do?

As Dr. Danelle Fisher, MD, FAAP, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, describes, children typically have pink lips, so if their lips turn blue, it can be a sign of a bigger problem. Beyond the common-sense causes noted above, Dr. Fisher reminds us that emergent blue lips in children tend to be rare. But if you see blue lips in your child without a recognized trigger (like a cold day), Dr. Fisher encourages, “The first thing to examine is how the child is breathing.”

Dr. Fisher advises asking yourself a few concerns to determine the level of emergency:

  1. Is he/she coughing or feeding when this occurs?
  2. Exists any seizure activity?
  3. Is the child having a fever?

“Blue lips signify cyanosis, which is brought on by an absence of oxygen in the blood or an absence of blood circulation. Blue lips might take place when a child has heart disease, pneumonia, asthma or a list of rarer causes,” states Dr. Fisher. “In a delighted, lively and healthy child who just consumed or drank food or liquid with a bluish or purple color, that is not an issue. If there are other symptoms occurring, particularly breathing symptoms, neurologic symptoms or severe lethargy, the child should be brought to medical attention right away.”

Now, here’s the response all anxious parents have actually been waiting for. According to Dr. Fisher, it’s important to call 911 right away for any child with blue lips and cold hands who is unresponsive, not breathing well or having a hard time to breathe. Parents ought to likewise call 911 for a child who is having seizure activity and resultant blueness of the lips. And, Dr. Fisher says, “Call your doctor for any child with blue lips who is really stable and breathing easily for an emerging examination.”

Seeing a child with blue lips is probably going to make your heart avoid a beat, however comprehending the possible causes of the condition can help you to examine your child more carefully. If there’s a direct reason for the blue lips– like a bowl of blueberries on the table – then you have nothing to fret about. But if your child is having problem breathing or, even worse, is unresponsive, their blue lips are a signal to seek medical attention right away.

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