Unless pale skin is accompanied by pale lips, tongue, palms of the hands, inside of the mouth, and lining of the eyes, or if it develops suddenly, or if it is accompanied by shortness of breath, blood in the stool, or other unexplained symptoms. it is probably not a serious condition, and does not require treatment.
General paleness affects the entire body. It is most easily seen on the face, lining of the eyes, inner mouth, and nails. Local paleness usually affects a single limb.
How easily paleness is diagnosed varies with skin color, and the thickness and amount of blood vessels in the tissue under the skin. Sometimes it is only a lightening of skin color. Paleness may be difficult to detect in a dark-skinned person, and is detected only in the eye and mouth lining.
Paleness can be caused by:
- Normal fair complexion
- Anemia (blood loss, poor nutrition, or underlying disease)
- Problems with the circulatory system
- Low blood sugar
- Chronic (long-term) diseases including infection and cancer
- Certain medicines
Tests that may be ordered include:
- Extremity arteriography
- CBC (complete blood count)
- Blood differential