Pallor mortis occurs almost immediately, generally within 15–25 minutes, after death. Paleness develops so rapidly after death that it has little to no use in determining the time of death, aside from saying that it either happened less than 30 minutes ago or more, which could help if the body were found very soon after death.
A living person can look deathly pale. This can happen when circumstances make the blood escape from the surface of the skin, as in deep shock. Also heart failure (insufficientia cordis) can make the face look grey; the person then also has blue lips. Skin can also look deathly pale as a result of vasoconstriction as part of the body's homeostatic systems in cold conditions, or if the skin is deficient in vitamin D, as seen in people who spend most of the time indoors, away from sunlight.