Which dermatologic findings are characteristic of cyanide toxicity?

Updated: May 30, 2020
  • Author: Inna Leybell, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Miller, MD  more...
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Answer

Classically, the skin of a cyanide-poisoned patient is described as cherry red in color due to elevated venous oxygen content resulting from failure of tissues to extract oxygen. In addition, arterialization of the venous blood may also be noted during phlebotomy or examination of the retinal veins. Alternatively, patients may be cyanotic after prolonged respiratory failure and shock. Despite its name, cyanosis is not a prominent finding of cyanide poisoning. Finally, many patients with cyanide poisoning have normal-appearing skin.


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