I'm a freshman med student and I've noticed that on all the feet (and hands) of deceased people that I've worked with, the bottom of the feet always turns red and also the inside of the palm? Why is this?

Thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ I haven't seen any cadavers, how red are you talking about? $\endgroup$ – user137 Apr 6 '15 at 16:27

It might be due to livor mortis, also called postmortem lividity, which is the settling of the blood in the lower parts of the body which in your case might have been the limbs. By time the color can be interpreted as either blue or purple, but given, that not much time has passed it can very well be the reddish color you might have asked, as stated here on page 39:

The first manifestation of livor mortis can be expected 20-30 min following the irreversible cardiovascular arrest, initially as bright-red spots that subsequently become confluent and turn bluish-violet.

Which might better describe your case is the fact, that cold conditions can cause bright red color in livor mortis, as it can also be found on page 39:

Cold conditions, such as keeping a body in cold storage, cause ... bright-red livor mortis.

You can read more about it here or here.


I have added references thanks to @Kendall, who provided them.

  • $\begingroup$ On these sites it says the extremities turn blue/purple with livor mortis: noirtek.weebly.com/embalming.html and deemzet.nl/5/3/3/links.htm (dutch site) $\endgroup$ – Wolgast Apr 6 '15 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ After long time it can be seen as blue/purple as pretty dense amount of blood indeed have a color like that, but earlier it might very well be considered red. $\endgroup$ – FloriOn Apr 6 '15 at 19:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A case study in this text on forensic medicine, page 23, makes note livor mortis may be bright red. Then, on page 40, a table notes bright red livor mortis is result of postmortem cold storage, among other causes like CO poisoning. $\endgroup$ – CKM Apr 6 '15 at 20:27

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