What Are the Causes of Blue Skin Discoloration?

Skin color results from the blood flow in the tiny vessels within the skin as well as the amount of pigment present in the dermal layers. Any number of normal conditions can alter the pigmentation of the skin, but only abnormal causes result in bluish discolorations. Chemicals such as medications and dyes, congenital defects and dangerous heart conditions and lung problems result in bluish discolorations of the nailbeds, skin and mucosal membranes. It is important to contact your health care provider in the event that you or a loved one has a bluish skin discoloration.


A common side effect of this antibiotic is a bluish discoloration of the gums, nail beds, lower legs and mucosal membranes, such as the inside of the nose and mouth. According to an article published in the "Canadian Medical Association Journal," 41 percent of rhematoid arthritis patients experienced a blue-gray discoloration of their skin after long-term minocycline use. Treatment for minocycline-induced hyperpigmentation is Alexandrite laser therapy 1.


Chemicals that cause hypoxia and cyanosis include:

  • nitrates
  • nitrites
  • aniline dyes
  • ergotamine
  • phenazopyridine
  • dapsone

Mongolian Spot

"Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology" states that Mongolian spots are benign skin lesions that occur in early childhood to disappear with maturity 3. Mongolian spots appear as large blue-gray spots on the buttocks and lower backs of infants. These are caused by melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation. Melanocytes become trapped in the dermal layer of the skin, producing the blue color. These are common in 99 percent of infants of Asian and Native American descent.