What It Really Means When Your Fingers Turn Purple

It can be pretty alarming to notice your fingers turning purple, especially if it's never happened before, but what does it mean? The purple color could mean that the oxygen is being cut off somewhere, and your blood isn't circulating to the affected fingers. Your skin will change color if blood isn't circulating, and it's how your body lets you know something isn't right (via Verywell Health). 

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that the cause could also be due to a variety of underlying health conditions, from frostbite to the Raynaud phenomenon. Therefore, you should see a doctor to determine the cause of your fingers turning purple. Your doctor will likely ask a few questions regarding whether your fingers turned color suddenly or if it happened over time, if it's happened before, if you smoke, and if you have any other symptoms. 

But what could be the actual cause behind the change in color, and what does it mean?

Causes of purple fingers

One possible cause is peripheral cyanosis, which is when your fingers or feet turn blue from a lack of oxygen (via Medical News Today). That blueish tint could be mistaken for purple. Symptoms of peripheral cyanosis are the affected area feeling cold and color returning to normal after warming up. 

Causes of peripheral cyanosis are anything from Raynaud's disease to hypovolemic shock. Raynaud's disease is when your blood vessels narrow when you're in cold weather and blood cannot get to your fingertips or toes. As a result, your fingers and toes will change color, and it can hurt. According to Verywell Health, it can also be caused by stress. 

Factors that can worsen Raynaud's syndrome are smoking, not staying warm, and rapidly changing temperatures. Keep your hands and feet warm in cold temperatures by wearing socks and gloves. See your doctor to determine if you have an underlying health condition, such as Raynaud's disease. They can help you find out why your fingers turn purple.