GRAY SKIN DISCOLORATION: All you need to know about ashen skin

What is gray skin discoloration

Gray skin discoloration is also known as ashen skin. It occurs when your blood is deprived of oxygen. The result of this is a pale, or pallor skin, or blue and grayish skin. Your blood transports oxygen to every tissue and organ in your body. A discoloration erupts when this flow of oxygen is disrupted.

In some cases, the blood flow itself may be disrupted, resulting in the production of a pale skin tone, or a grayish or ashen tint to your skin tone. Blood flow may continue even when you are deprived of oxygen, but it changes color. This causes gray skin discoloration or ashen skin.

Gray skin discoloration or ashen skin may also be an indicator of an underlying health problem. A bluish skin can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. Generally, pallor is caused by insufficient oxygen, which may be attributed to several factors.

Some situations in which the skin turns pale may be considered medical emergencies – for example, if a person is choking or unable to breathe. Non-emergency situations could also trigger the symptom. In other cases, gray skin discoloration or ashen skin may be a feature of chronic health conditions, such as cancer. Treatment and prognosis depend on the situation and the causes of skin discoloration.

gray skin discoloration
Photo Credit: SemanticScholar

What causes raised gray skin discoloration?

When a person has entered the late stages of organ failure or disease, the flow of blood slows down, resulting in gray skin discoloration or a gray pallor. Causes include:

  • Renal failure, or chronic kidney disease
  • Terminal cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Iron storage disease, also known as hemochromatosis

Some chronic diseases or health conditions can produce a bluish skin color or pallor due to poor blood flow or lack of oxygen in the body. Some conditions may be considered emergencies and may require medical treatment; on the other hand, other conditions can be treated, but aren’t considered life-threatening:

  • Anemia
  • Choking on an object
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis, and other chronic infections
  • Emphysema
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Indications of an emergency

If you see a person with gray skin discoloration or ashen skin who seems distressed, chances are that it may be a medical emergency. Other symptoms of an emergency include the inability to talk, difficulty breathing, bluish tint on the nails and lips, and loss of consciousness. If you think a person is unable to breathe or is choking, please do not hesitate to call 911 and get immediate medical help.

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