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Updated: September 19, 2006

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Causes and risk factors

The etiology of Acrocyanosis is unknown but may be related to increased tone and spasm of the arterioles associated with dilation of capillaries and venules. The disorder usually occurs in women and is not associated with occlusive arterial disease. It is often secondary to a variety of underlying causes. Cold and emotional stress, e.g., anxiety, aggravates it.


The exact pathophysiologic abnormality is not clear but may be vasospasm in the cutaneous arteries and arterioles with compensatory dilatation in the postcapillary venules. The primary form is a benign cosmetic problem, but it may also be seen in patients with connective tissue diseases, thromboangiitis obliterans, and diseases associated with central cyanosis.

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