Lips like your skin can change color which can tell about your health or a health risk that might be happening to you. When the normal color of your lip changes to dark blue or purple color, you should know about the possible causes. You may require medical care or maybe your blue lips is just a simple bruise or damage to your lip. You will read about the most common causes of blue lips and skin discoloration into purple color.

What causes blue lips?

Skin damage

In case of any trauma or damage to the soft tissues of your body, you can expect that your skin turns blue or purple. This is when you develop bruise marks on your skin and blue spots appear. Lips can easily get blue because of the delicate and thin layer of membrane over your skin in that area. Your lips and skin can change color into blue by either damage or by the level of oxygen in your blood.


Cyanosis is the bluish color that appears on your skin and the mucus membrane because of a lack of oxygen in your blood. It is another name for purple or blue discoloration of your skin.

According to NHS (National Health Service), cyanosis can be a symptom of many diseases related to lungs like asthma or pneumonia, heart diseases like congenital heart disease or failure in the heart, and other conditions like Reynaud’s or a blood clot. Cyanosis can easily be seen on your skin of lips, your gums, under or around your eyes, and under the nails. You need medical care and examination for blood circulation and the level of oxygen in your blood.

Sun exposure and cold weather

If your skin is exposed to sun radiation or extreme cold conditions, it is likely that skin discoloration occurs. Not just your lips but your face and other exposed parts turn blue, purple and red. Your skin can tan easily by being in front of the sun. If the tanned skin is inflamed and tender and give you pain by touch, you might need to see a doctor right away to check for any signs and symptoms of precancerous skin conditions.

If your body is in cold weather without warm and suitable clothing, your toes, lips, and face turn blue. You can manage that by covering your body during cold temperatures. Also, check out for hypothermia (abnormal low body temperature) when you always have blue color on your body skin and your lips.

High altitudes

Traveling to high altitudes not only causes altitude sickness but also can be the reason for the discoloration of your lips into purple or blue color. It is because as you ascend and climb up to a mountain, the oxygen decreases. That means a shortage of oxygen level in your blood and cyanosis, which occur along with other breathing problems.

Congenital heart disease

Heart disease can be acquired or congenital (you are born with it). If a person is born with a heart defect, cyanosis is one of the results along with difficulty in breathing, child immature physical development, and heart murmur symptoms.

Toes, fingers, lips, and other skin parts can turn blue because of either right-to-left or left-to-right shunting of blood in the heart. It means abnormal blood circulation in the body and results in blue or purple skin.


If you have an allergy to medications, foods, pollen, and certain items, you may experience blue and purple lips. Sometimes, it can occur especially when some items have a contact with your lip like your lipstick. In case of more serious symptoms, where you may have problems with breathing or you may get severe coughs, you will require medical examination and treatment.

Respiratory diseases

Respiratory system includes bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli, which are in your lungs and other respiratory system components are your nasal cavity, pharynx (your throat), and trachea. Any defect, infection, or problem in your respiratory system can cause breathing problems and blue lips as a result of lack of oxygen due to abnormal airflow.

Common respiratory diseases that can cause cyanosis (blue lips/skin) include:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Two important diseases, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are included in the COPD disorders. COPD disorders are chronic obstruction of airflow.
  • Asthma: Astma is another respiratory disease that causes airway hyperactivity. It can occur because of triggering stimuli like allergens, cold weather, exercise, viral infections, smoke or other conditions in the environment.
  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is the inflammatory lung condition that is caused by bacterial or virus infection.

And other viral infections like:

  • Common cold
  • Influenza
  • Croup

If you have one of these symptoms:

  • Have dyspnea (short of breath)
  • Get blue or purple lips (cyanosis)
  • Cough and wheeze
  • Have a chest pain
  • Get tired and have fatigue
  • Vomit blood

You must visit a doctor to prevent any emergency problems since these symptoms can be alarming signs of a respiratory disease.

When to see a doctor for blue or purple lips/skin?

You shouldn’t ignore the symptoms and signs that your body presents. Blue purple lips and skin discoloration requires medical attention, especially if it accompanies symptoms like coughing, having shortness of breath, pain in your chest, and other serious signs. Seeking medical care is a must to know if you have any underlying respiratory diseases.

Sometimes even by just walking up on a few stairs, a normal person will see the lips turn blue and you will get dyspnea or difficulty breathing. Your doctor will provide the best treatment by finding the exact cause through careful physical examination, check-ups, and reviewing your background history of diseases and medications you use.

Should I worry about purple lips?

When your skin or lips turn into a blue or purple color, it is because of low oxygen level in your blood. If it is not a bruise from your lip bite, cold weather, an allergy reaction, or other environmental conditions, it can be cyanosis from an underlying disease from heart or lung problems. Look for other symptoms like wheezing, difficulty in breathing, coughs, and more possible signs.

What condition turns your hand or fingers blue?

Cyanosis is the medical term for bluish change of color of the skin including your lips. It can be a symptom of many diseases and conditions. When fingers, toes and hands turn blue, it is because of lack of enough oxygen in the blood and blood circulation disorders, which can be caused by heart diseases or conditions like Raynaud’s.

How do you stop blue lip? Treatment and health tips

Treatment of blue or purple lips depends on the underlying cause. Your doctor will determine if an underlying condition such as problems with your heart or lungs is responsible for the issue. They will help correct your medical condition and restore the normal oxygenated blood flow to your lips.

Your blue lips will resolve if it is the result of cold weather or just a simple skin damage.

Here are some ways and caring tips that your doctor can recommend while treating blue lips:

  • You may need to breathe in extra oxygen or even use a ventilator to help with your oxygen supplementation.
  • Your doctor adjusts the dose of certain medications if you are taking one (such as blood pressure and blood thinners). This is to ensure the balance of white blood cell count (WBC) and red blood cell count (RBC).
  • If you have a heart problem or certain respiratory conditions such as COPD or emphysema, treatment is then provided. Your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes like exercise and quitting smoking to improve your respiratory and vascular health.
  • Blue lips can be the flare-up symptom of your respiratory condition. It is important to know and avoid the different triggers if you have COPD and asthma.   

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