Mottled Skin: Should You Be Concerned?
Published on Sept 26, 2021
Mottled skin (livedo reticularis) or skin that appears patchy and irregular in color often makes people nervous. You might also be wondering if these red and purple spots that create a lacy net pattern should be a cause for concern. Well, it depends.
Symptoms Of Mottled Skin
Mottled skin is characterized by a blotchy look with red or purple blotches. The discoloration of the skin can occur in any region of the body and the symptom of mottled skin may be unrecognizable at first. On the skin, you may notice a lacy network of patches.
Associated symptoms that are cause for concern and require medical attention include the following:
- painful nodules
- ulceration of the skin
Mottled skin frequently resolves on its own. However, if it does not resolve on its own, get medical attention to determine the cause or get a diagnosis.
Mottled Skin Causes
Skin mottling has different causes. Whether you should be alarmed about it or not depends on the severity of the underlying causes. The two common reasons for skin mottling are blood vessel spasms and poor blood circulation. But these other factors may also be the common causes of mottled skin:
1. Cold Environment
As mentioned, poor circulation of the blood can cause mottled skin. And cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to constrict. This affects the blood flow in your body, which can result in mottling.
Mottled skin due to the cold environment is easy to resolve. Using a warm and comfy blanket can return your skin to normal and should not make you worry at all.
Shock occurs when your body can’t get enough blood flow. Accidents, trauma, or any injuries that lead to blood loss can cause shock, and mottled skin is one sign that there isn’t enough blood flowing in your veins.
Shock is a severe and life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
- Cold, pale, or mottled skin
- Rapid pulse
- Rapid breathing
- Breathing issues
- Larger-than-normal pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Reactions to Medications
Some medications cause skin mottling as a side effect. This depends on the type of drugs and your allergies. Typical medicines that are known to cause mottled skin include:
- Minocycline (Minocin)
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease marked by inflammation of the skin. This disease can also cause your skin to mottle.
- Breathing issues
- Butterfly rash (on the face)
- pain, swelling, or stiffness
- Dry eyes
- Sun sensitivity
- Toes and fingers turning blue in the cold
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, and one of the symptoms of this disease is mottled skin.
- Upper abdomen pain
- Rapid pulse
6. End-of-Life Stage
A mottled skin can also indicate your loved one’s imminent death. It often occurs in the last week or days of people who are in hospice care.
Though mottling may be typical to dying people, not everyone experiences mottled skin when they are close to passing.
Some might only experience a paler and colder skin without mottling. This condition usually depends on the health issues that you or your family member is facing at the end of their life. (Related: What to Bring to Someone in Hospice Care)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dislike water and food
- Unconscious or delirious
- Breathing issue
- Severe fatigue and weakness
- Decreased cardiac activity
7. Vascular Diseases
Symptoms for conditions like blood clots, atherosclerosis, and aortic aneurysms may also include mottled skin. These diseases affect the blood vessels and disrupt your blood flow. Lifestyle changes coupled with proper medications can effectively prevent or treat vascular illnesses.
- aortic aneurysms
- blood clots
8. Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune condition that mostly affects the blood vessels. Mottled skin is one of the signs, which typically develops on the knees or wrists.
- Blood clots
Mottled Skin In Newborn Babies
Mottled skin in newborn babies is frequent, and you should be a cause of concern. It’s commonly caused by exposure to cold and usually goes away on its own.
Complications can occur if the cause of mottled skin is a medical condition that is not immediately addressed. But for mottled skin caused by a cold environment, complications rarely occur.
Cold temperatures can worsen mottled skin. Therefore, individuals with mottled skin should dress warmly.
Consuming a nutritious diet and engaging in regular physical activity may help lower the chance of developing vascular issues. Additionally, abstaining from smoking lessens the likelihood of having impaired circulation.
Mottled skin treatment depends on the cause and will vary based on its condition. If the mottled skin is caused by cold temperature, you or your loved one can do some cold-reducing measures to reduce mottling of the skin. You can turn up the central heating or use a heating blanket to warm up.
For people with health problems such as lupus, your doctor may give you medications to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. If you are uncomfortable with your mottled skin, you can cover it up with makeup.
For mottled skin associated with the end-of-life stage, doctors will focus more on keeping the person feel peaceful. Mottled skin is not painful, so it’s a cause of concern. If you or your loved one is close to passing, your health care provider will keep your last days as comfortable as possible.
About The Author
As a professional writer at many renowned websites Krizzia Paolyn has covered a wide range of topics in many industries. Her knack for uncovering important truths and conducting thorough research on each topic she writes about has helped thousands of people across the world.