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Learn about your pale skin, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your pale skin from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Pale Skin Checker

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Your Pale Skin May Also be Known as:
Poor circulation
Skin lost color
White skin

Pale Skin Symptoms

You've been saving and planning for a year and the time has finally come. You're headed out on a two-week cruise in the morning. There's just one problem. Your pale skin is putting a major damper on your beach plans.

If your skin has always been pale, you can blame genetics. But if your skin normally has a darker or warmer glow to it, pale skin can signal a variety of health problems. Possible causes range from simple nutrient deficiencies to dangerous changes in blood flow.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms along with your pale skin you should seek immediate medical attention:

Skin includes three pigments: melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin. Your unique combination of the three determine your natural skin tone. Melanin is the main pigment that determines your unique shade. If you spend your summers outside and in the open, an increase in pigment production from melanocytes, or cells that produce melanin, are the scientific cause behind your tan.

Changes in our skin tone can signal a variety of conditions. If you see a major change in all or a small part of your skin, a trip to the dermatologist can rule out the scary causes, like skin cancer. But in most situations, there is a treatable cause behind the change.

Pale Skin Causes Overview

Deficiencies:

  • Iron: Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the United States. Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty maintaining body temperature, and paleness due to anemia. Infants, toddlers, and pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing an iron deficiency.
  • G6PD: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency is a genetic disorder that affects red blood cells. As the blood cells prematurely break down, paleness, yellowed eyes, and dark urine are some experienced symptoms.
  • Vitamin B-12: B-12 deficiencies are common in the elderly but can develop at any age. Our bodies need B-12 to produce red blood cells and DNA. Weakness, a pins and needles sensation in the hands or feet, and pale or yellowed skin are all symptoms.

Infections:

  • Sepsis: This potentially deadly infection is usually caused by bacteria. As the body's blood becomes more infected, fatigue, weakness, and pale skin can quickly develop.
  • Influenza: Commonly known as the flu, this infection affects the respiratory system. As less oxygen flows through the body, skin can take on a paler appearance.

Conditions and diseases:

  • Cystic fibrosis: CF is typically diagnosed before or quickly after birth in infants, but some cases are difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, a swollen abdomen, and pale skin linked to a lower than average blood oxygen level.
  • Leukemia: A variety of cancers are linked to paler skin as the body weakens. But leukemia directly affects blood cells, making pale skin one of the first symptoms of the disease.
  • Vitiligo: If your pale skin is patchy compared to uniform, vitiligo could be to blame. There are no proven treatments of the condition, but it is harmless.
  • Anemia: Anemia causes fatigue, headaches, and pale skin.

Lifestyle choices:

  • Poor diet: Eating junk food and skipping healthier options can lead to paler skin over time. Skin may also lose elasticity and appear dry and flakey.
  • Heat exhaustion: Spending the day out in the hot sun without getting enough rest or water can take its toll on the body. The skin might take on a bright red shade or appear paler.

Top 7 Pale Skin Causes

  1. 1.Side - Effect(s) of Chemotherapy

    Unfortunately, chemotherapy has many side-effects, ranging from hair loss to fatigue to nausea. This occurs because the treatment affects not only diseased cells but also healthy cells.

    You should discuss your symptoms with your oncologist or oncology nurse.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, dizziness
    Symptoms that never occur with side-effect(s) of chemotherapy:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Colonic Neoplasm

    Colonic neoplasm is a disorder of the large intestine. It often causes abdominal pain, cramping, changes in bowel habits, and fatigue.

    You schedule a visit with your primary care physician (PCP). It is likely an endoscopy will be performed to examine the inside of the colon as well as blood tests.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, stomach bloating, stool changes, diarrhea, constipation
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Mild Hypothermia

    Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celcius.

    It is imperative to prevent further heat being lost. If possible, move the person indoors or somewhere warm immediately. Remove wet clothes and wrap the person in warm blankets or clothes.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    coldness, fatigue, pale skin, turning blue or purple from coldness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

    Pale Skin Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having pale skin.

    Take a quiz
  4. 4.Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (Cml)

    Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells, which are cells that help fight disease. The disease has broad symptoms such as fever, fatigue, weakness, and pain in the left upper part of the abdomen.

    CML is a serious condition that requires the care of a cancer specialist (oncologist). Your primary care physician should be consulted first, as they will coordinate your care. The standard of treatment is a medicine called imatinib. A bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy are also used often.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, stomach bloating, shortness of breath, unintentional weight loss, feeling of fullness early in a meal
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Moderate to Severe Hypothermia

    With prolonged exposure to freezing cold, the body can lose the ability to maintain a safe core temperature. If this continues for long enough, you can become confused or even lose consciousness

    Call an ambulance immediately. Get to a warm place. You should be lying down with very little movement. Remove any wet clothing, if possible, and cover up with heavy blankets or jackets.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    coldness, pale skin, slow heartrate (under 60bpm), alertness level change
    Symptoms that never occur with moderate to severe hypothermia:
    shivering
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  6. 6.Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (Over 5)

    Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is a disorder that usually occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury.

    You should seek immediate medical care at an ER, where blood tests may confirm the diagnosis. Treatment varies depending on severity of damage, but needs to be done as soon as possible. This is a life-threatening event!

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal pain (stomach ache), fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)
    Symptoms that always occur with hemolytic uremic syndrome (over 5):
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  7. 7.Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

    Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells. This disease most commonly affects children between the ages of 2-5 years, and is a much more rare disease in adults. People with this disease get sick very rapidly. First, they feel fatigue and dizziness, and eventually the disease leads to bone marrow failure.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will be able to coordinate your care with a cancer specialist (oncologist). The oncologist will confirm the diagnosis with blood tests. ALL is a serious condition that is usually treated with aggressive chemotherapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, shortness of breath, severe fatigue
    Symptoms that never occur with acute lymphoblastic leukemia:
    inflamed throat
    Urgency:
    In-person visit

Pale Skin Treatments and Relief

There are a few symptoms you should look out for if your skin has recently changed.

Experiencing any of these listed symptoms warrants a trip to your doctor sooner than later.

If you want to bring back your glow, consider these treatments.

  • Supplements: If your pale skin is caused by a deficiency, your doctor may prescribe you take a supplement of either iron, B-12, or folate.
  • Balanced diet: Eating a healthier diet can reverse skin paleness if related to deficiencies. Consume foods like peanut butter, avocados, and sweet potatoes.
  • Medication: If your paleness is related to an underlying condition or disease that can be treated with medication, proper dosages should return your skin to its normal shade.
  • Surgery: Blockages in the body are a rare but possible cause of paleness. Surgical intervention is usually a requirement to treat this cause.

If your pale skin is causing you stress, ruling out a serious condition is the first step. Once you're in the clear, starting treatment will get your glow back. Eventually, you'll be confidently strutting down the beach with healthy skin.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pale Skin

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our pale skin symptom checker.

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Pale Skin Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced pale skin have also experienced:

    • 9% Fatigue
    • 4% Nausea
    • 3% Dizziness
  • People who have experienced pale skin were most often matched with:

    • 1% Colonic Neoplasm
    • 1% Mild Hypothermia
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Pale Skin Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having pale skin.

Take a quiz