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Pale Skin

Why does my child look pale?

Your child's skin may look very white, or pale. Most of the time it is because your child has a fair complexion. He or she has probably always been fair, had light hair, and usually has a parent with similar skin coloring. Another factor is lack of sun exposure. Pale skin is noticed more during winter months. Temporary paleness also occurs when someone is very cold; normal color returns after warming up.

Pale skin rarely is due to anemia (low red blood cell count). In anemia the lips, gums, and nailbeds are also pale. In a child with fair complexion who is not anemic these areas should be pink.

When should I call my child's health care provider?


  • Your child has fainted or feels very weak when standing up.
  • Your child has experienced recent blood loss.

Call during office hours if:

  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2002-01-09
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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