Uremic frost: a harbinger of impending renal failure

Int J Dermatol. 2016 Jan;55(1):17-20. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12963. Epub 2015 Oct 16.


Uremic frost is a striking cutaneous finding seen in patients with severe kidney disease. Familiarity with this condition can be a life-saving signal to initiate urgent dialysis. Uremic frost generally occurs at blood urea nitrogen levels of approximately 200 mg/dl, although it may arise with less severe uremia. Recently confirmed urea transporters in the skin may play a role in the development of uremic frost. Alternatively, damage to the cutaneous microvasculature and pilosebaceous units, as seen in chronic kidney disease, could account for the high levels of urea deposited outside the skin. The treatment of uremic frost is largely aimed at correcting the underlying cause of uremia and the other life-threatening conditions associated with renal failure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Renal Dialysis / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Diseases, Metabolic / etiology*
  • Skin Diseases, Metabolic / pathology
  • Skin Diseases, Metabolic / physiopathology
  • Uremia / complications*
  • Uremia / diagnosis
  • Uremia / therapy