top of page

Purple Feet: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Foot Anatomy

Have you noticed that your feet have turned purple or have developed a purplish discoloration? While it can be concerning, there are various reasons why this discoloration may occur.

This article will explore the potential causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for purple feet.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Purple Feet

Purple feet syndrome is a rare medical condition characterized by purple discoloration of the feet. Also known as acrocyanosis occurs when there is poor blood flow to the feet and other dependent tissues, typically accompanied by cold weather. The condition can also be associated with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and Raynaud's disease. In most cases, the cause of purple feet syndrome is unknown.

Treatment for purple feet syndrome usually focuses on preventing the development of complications by increasing circulation and managing any underlying medical condition.

Blue or purple feet are a kind of Vascular disease, and vascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. It includes any condition that affects your circulatory system, like peripheral artery disease, which produces purple feet.

Western Modern Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine are leading the treatment of Vascular diseases all around the world.

2. Possible Causes of Purple Feet

This mostly is due to vascular disease, and there are several potential causes of purple feet, including:

  • Poor circulation: If the blood vessels in the feet get compromised, it can cause a bluish or purplish coloration. Conditions like peripheral artery disease (PAD) or Raynaud's disease can contribute to circulation problems.

  • Peripheral neuropathy: Nerve damage in the feet, often associated with conditions like diabetes or alcoholism, can compromise circulation in the feet and lead to skin color changes.

  • Cold exposure: Prolonged exposure to cold weather can cause blood vessels in the feet to constrict, resulting in a purple appearance. The temperature reduces the normal blood flow to the feet. Typical in Raynaud's disease.

  • Blood disorders: Certain blood disorders, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or venous insufficiency, can produce blood clots, affecting blood flow and causing discoloration.

  • Infections or inflammation: Foot infections or inflammatory conditions like cellulitis or vasculitis can obstruct blood vessels and lead to purple discoloration and blue feet.

  • Metabolic disorders: Too much glucose in the bloodstream of diabetic patients can reduce the blood flow and cause blood vessels to narrow. This can lead to a huge variety of complications, from minor aches and nerve damage in the feet to peripheral arterial disease, deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, and stroke.

3. Symptoms Associated with Purple Feet

Apart from the noticeable purplish coloration, individuals with purple feet may also experience accompanying symptoms depending on the underlying cause. These symptoms may include:

  • Numbness or tingling sensations

  • Swelling or edema

  • Pain or discomfort

  • Skin changes, such as dryness or ulcers

  • Purple color.

4. Signs to Pay Attention

These are warning signs of poor circulation; your blood vessels are not working properly, and you should visit a health provider:

Minor foot injuries take too long to heal:

This probably means the blood supply to your feet is compromised; we need oxygen-rich blood with white blood cells, plaquettes, and nutrients to repair the damaged tissue. If this takes too long, it means we might have an ischemic foot.


Fatigue can be a sign of reduced blood flow. If you have heart disease, your organs are not getting enough blood, and feeling tiredness or exhaustion can be normal. Low or high blood pressure may also produce fatigue.

Skin discoloration:

If the skin on your feet or hands turns blue or purple, it means that you need more oxygen. It is another sign of poor circulation. It is another common symptom of Diabetes.

Dizziness while standing up:

Feeling dizzy when standing up from a chair may be a sign of blood pressure issues. Your brain is not getting the right amount of blood.

Dry skin on feet:

Poor circulation in the feet reduces the blood flow that allows the healthy regeneration of the skin. In severe cases, the skin may produce very hard-to-heal wounds.

Numbness or tingling sensation on feet or hands:

These symptoms can be due to a lack of healthy circulation in the feet, but also it can appear when a nerve is pinched due to a musculoskeletal issue.

Brittle nails:

If your fingers or toenails don't receive the oxygen and nutrients they need, they will turn weak and fragile. Often they may be prone to fungal infections.

5. Diagnosing Purple Feet

To determine the cause of purple feet, a healthcare provider may perform various

Blood work

diagnostic tests, including:

  • Physical examination: A thorough examination of the feet, including checking for temperature, pulses, and any visible abnormalities.

  • Medical history: Discuss your medical history, including any pre-existing conditions or recent changes in medications.

  • Blood test: Evaluating blood cell counts, markers of inflammation, and assessing for potential underlying disorders.

  • Imaging tests: Using imaging techniques like ultrasound or angiography to examine blood vessels and assess circulation. Also, a chest X-ray or CT scan to evaluate your heart and lungs.

6. Treatment Options for Purple Feet

Western Medicine:


The treatment for purple feet depends on the underlying health conditions. Modern Medicine will prescribe medications to control your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and sugar levels in your blood, and advise you to stop smoking.

You may need to take antiplatelet medications like aspirin to improve circulation.

In very advanced vascular diseases, surgery may be needed to attach a blood vessel from another part of your body to the affected artery, creating a route for blood to bypass the narrowed section of the artery.

Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine and Acupuncture have been treating cardiovascular disorders literally for thousands of years.

With its unique diagnostic methods, systematic approach, and abundant historical literature and materials, TCM has attracted much attention from the international community.

TCM has been very effective in the treatment of vascular disease, even though the mechanisms of work are not well understood.

Here you can see some studies proving the efficacy of Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture in the treatment of vascular and circulatory diseases:

- Effect of Traditional Chinese Medicine on the Cardiovascular Diseases

- Enhanced Protective Effect of the Combination of Uncaria and Semen Raphani on Vascular Endothelium in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats

- The electroacupuncture in patients recently operated for peripheral arterial disease. A comparative study of the two electrostimulation techniques.

- Acupuncture Enhances Generation of Nitric Oxide and Increases Local Circulation.

7. Prevention and Self-Care Tips

While not all cases of purple feet can be prevented, certain self-care practices may help reduce the risk or severity of symptoms. Consider the following tips:

Keep feet warm: Wear appropriate footwear and warm socks in colder temperatures to minimize the risk of cold-induced purple feet.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Engage in regular physical activity, follow a balanced diet, and manage chronic conditions to promote overall foot health.

Regular foot care: Practice good foot hygiene, moisturize the skin, and inspect your feet regularly for any changes or abnormalities.

Reduce the intake of carbohydrates and seed oils. There are a number of studies proving that industrial seed oils are highly inflammatory for our cardiovascular system.

8. When to See a Doctor

It's important to consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent purple discoloration in your feet or if you have concerns about accompanying symptoms. Prompt medical attention can help identify and address any underlying health conditions contributing to the discoloration.

You will need immediate medical attention if you have, in addition to blue or purple feet, hands, or lips, the next signs: fever, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, pain or numbness on the legs or arms, and, or profuse sweating.

These signs are considered a medical emergency.

Red Flags Purple Feet

9. Conclusion

Purple feet can be worrisome, but understanding the potential causes and seeking medical advice is crucial for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Addressing the underlying cause makes it possible to manage and alleviate the symptoms associated with purple feet.

We recommend that in collaboration with your regular health provider, try Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments with Chinese herbs and Acupuncture to treat the root cause of your unbalance and be able to recuperate your healthy circulation.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can purple feet be a sign of a serious condition? Purple feet are a sign of a circulation problem, ischemic foot, that can be potentially serious. You should see your doctor if your foot turns blue without any bumps or bruises.

  2. What should I do if my feet turn purple after exposure to cold? That is a clear sign that you need to improve circulation; probably, you have Raynaud's disease. You should confirm your diagnosis with your MD and then treat it with the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

  3. Are there any home remedies for purple feet? It depends on the cause of your ischemic foot; if it happens with cold temperatures, then a warm foot bath may help. But first, you need a diagnosis.

  4. Can purple feet be reversed? You need to improve circulation; Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture have a great history of success in treating vascular disorders.

If you want new results, maybe you need to try something new.

  1. Are there any specific risk factors for developing purple feet? One of the biggest risk factors is nutrition. Carbohydrates abuse produces inflammation and reduces circulation. If you already have circulatory conditions in your feet and legs, you should avoid any kind of carbohydrates and seed oils and follow a heart-healthy diet.


bottom of page