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Blanching of skin
Detecting changes in skin color is challenging because there is such a wide range of skin coloration in all individuals. Subtle changes like s...

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Definition

Blanching of skin occurs when the skin becomes pale in response to gentle pressure.

Alternative Names

Blanched skin, skin blanches, skin turns white.

Synopsis

Detecting changes in skin color is challenging because there is such a wide range of skin coloration in all individuals. Subtle changes like skin blanching may occur gradually over time, or there may be a sudden onset. Blanching of skin is usually a localized reaction and may be a sign that the skin tissue is not receiving its usual blood supply due to swelling, cold, or other problems, such as insufficient blood flow through the vessels.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Vitiligo
  • Smallpox
  • Ringworm
  • Shock
  • Frostbite
  • Burns
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Dermatitis
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Eczema
  • Anemia
  • Pemphigoid
  • Impetigo
  • Pressure ulcers

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors are continually developing tools for effectively measuring skin blanching in individuals with varying amounts of melanin pigment in the skin. Although a subtle symptom, blanching of the skin remains an important indicator of overall health. A comprehensive examination, history and physical are required and diagnostic studies such as laboratory tests may be necessary. Treatment will depend on the underlying condition.

Call 911 if:

Blanching of the skin is accompanied by:

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Air hunger or gasping for breath
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating profusely

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: October 2, 2007
Last Updated: October 31, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
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