Mottled Skin

Mottled skin, also commonly known as Livedo reticularis, is the condition wherein there is a formation of vascular pattern, mostly reticulated, on the skin. It generally has an appearance of lace like discoloration, mostly purple in color. There are a lot of beliefs around it, some even pertaining to a severe illness or death. Mottled skin can occur in babies as well as adults. In this article, we’ll study about its remedies along with treatments.

Mottled Skin

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Mottled Skin Definition

Medically, mottled skin, also known as Livedo reticularis or dyschromia, is a kind of formation of patchy coloration on the skin. To the layman, it can be said that this condition refers to the patchy discoloration, mostly purple, on the skin – it is caused due to changes in blood vessels. There are some other reasons as well, for such coloration – it could be due to changes in pigment density, or due to the growth of colonies of foreign organisms on the skin surface. These could be the possible reasons, apart from the one mentioned above, about the changes in vascular system.

Mottled skin means lacy patches, or net like patches on the skin. These patches are irregular and they have lots of discoloration. The main cause for mottled skin is changes in blood vessels which are directly present under the surface of the skin. This includes blood vessels’ constriction. There are some reasons as to why this happens and most of them are quite common. Here are some of them:

  • Usage of coagulants
  • Fluctuations in the temperature of the body
  • Over exposure of skin to the sun
  • Some other disorders of blood
  • Other medical conditions like lupus or rheumatoid.

Mottled skin appears the most of body parts like legs, trunk and arms. They appear as reddish patches on these body parts. Later, it turns purple in color, and eventually, it changes to dark brownish over certain amount of time. Quite understandably, such patches are visible clearly on light/fair skinned people, rather than the ones with a darker skin tone. Nevertheless, the skin of the tone doesn’t decide if or not a person will have mottled skin, because irrespective of that, everyone can suffer from the mottled skin condition. Moreover, in cold weather conditions, mottled skin becomes more apparent. However, a patient having this condition generally does not complain of any sort of pain.

Causes of mottled skin

For human beings, there are blood vessels present in the body, which are basically tube-like structures having the function of carrying blood to the heart and from the heart to other parts of the body. There are different kinds of blood vessels: veins, capillaries and the arteries. Underneath the skin’s surface, there are tiny capillaries, which are blood vessels. For the people with a fair skin tone, capillaries are clearly visible, and for the ones with a darker skin tone, they are not so clear. Here are some common causes of skin mottling:

  • Many disorders of blood can be a reason for development of irregular patches on the skin.
  • Skin mottling is more common for people with a lower platelet count in their blood.
  • With increasing age, a majority of the people get the condition of skin mottling.
  • One of the most common causes of skin mottling is changes in the temperature of body.
  • For adults, being over exposed to the sun for longer periods of time can result in skin mottling.
  • The people who are undergoing anticoagulant therapy can find themselves developing patches on the surface of their skin.
  • For new born babies as well, mottling of skin is observed. Naturally, it leads to anxiety and worry in the parents. For most of the cases, there is nothing to be worried about, as these go away with age and are pretty much harmless.
  • For infants, mottling of skin is also known as Cutis Marmorata.
  • The reason why skin mottling occurs in infants is mostly due to an underdeveloped vascular system, or an underdeveloped circulatory system.

Common Symptoms For Mottled Skin

There are some symptoms for mottled skin which are common, and if you pay closer attention, you can easily notice them. Here are the symptoms that you must watch out for:

  • For the people with lower skin pigmentation, the appearance of patches on the skin surface is more visible, the reason being, the blood vessels for such people are easier to observe. Same holds true for people with a translucent skin. Now for the ones who have a darker skin tone, the formation of patches is there, but it becomes a bit difficult to notice them, since such patches can be easily mistaken. They too, like the people with fairer skin tone can have blood vessel changes leading to mottling of skin.
  • Formation of a lacy network of red or purple colored patches on the surface of this skin. The reason why this happens is, at times, there is a constriction in the blood vessels, and this in turn leads to stopping the blood circulation throughout the entire body. Eventually, what happens is, there is an accumulation of blood in those areas which are closer to the skin surface.
  • In the rarest of rare cases, mottling of skin could suggest a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention. What are such rare cases? If someone abruptly forms mottled skin and also develops some concerning symptoms, like, pain in those areas, or having some breathing difficulties, it could be possible that they could be having a shock. If any of these happens, you should immediately rush to the ER.

Mottling of skin right before death: It is believed that when the blood pressure gradually drops down and the heart rate increases, but becomes weaker; when the lips, fingers, nail beds and earlobes turn light gray or appear bluish; when there is a formation of reddish blue, blotchy or purplish coloring of the knees and the feet (mottling), – all of these signs indicate that death could be very near.

Mottling of skin in babies

Mottling of skin in babies

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If mottling of skin is observed in babies, there isn’t anything to be worried about, or any particular cause behind it. There can be a number of reasons why mottled skin occurs in children and infants, and the good thing is that most of them do not require any treatment. As there is nothing to be worried about, they tend to go away with time. As mentioned earlier, dyschromia is the other name for mottled skin. The cause of occurrence of mottled skin is the changes in blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. Mottling of skin is indicated by coloration of skin – purple, red, or any other, depending on what the condition is. Basically, these patches are blood present below your skin.

At times, it happens so that the arms and legs of the bay show formation of marble like patterns, usually small in size. When there is a reduction of blood flow, this is what happens in babies. Apart from that, infants can also get mottled skin or patches on their skin due to sympathetic nervous system, which is yet to be regulated. For otherwise healthy babies, such patches tend to go away quickly, sometimes, as quickly as in some minutes. For infants, mottled skin is developed due to various reasons. For example, when the baby is delivered, there could be a development of mottled skin, if the blood vessels on the top layer of the skin get broken. This is in turn gives the baby’s skin a marbled look. Moreover, when this new born baby will pass the first stool, even then mottled skin can appear. Mottled skin can also be caused if the environment is extremely cold. When this is the scenario, it causes capillaries dilatation of those present of the upper skin surface, because of the low temperature. All of these changes in the skin described earlier can be indicated by approximately 3 centimeter diameter of a patch, which could be pink and circumscribed. These generally have a blue border, producing a polish marble effect. For infants, mottling of skin can affect the trunk, how extreme it can be will vary for every baby. In rare cases, the baby’s nose or even its genitalia can be involved. It happens quite rarely, though.

Major causes for skin mottling in babies: For any given normal conditions, while the baby is growing and developing, the parents can come across coloration on their baby’s skin surface. This coloration on the baby’s skin surface is what mottling of skin is, which sometimes could be purplish and some times, bluish. Various body parts of the baby can be affected by mottling of skin. One of the major reasons why this happens in babies could be due to its circulatory system, which is yet in the developing stage. Normally, many babies get affected by skin mottling due to its circulatory system which is still immature. Moreover, even the nerve supply of the baby which is responsible for the blood vessels is still in its developing stage. This holds true especially for the baby’s upper layer of the skin. In turn, this leads to dilation and uneven contraction of its blood vessels of various skin parts. Ultimately, it leads to mottling of skin.

As and when the babies grow up, mottled skin tends to go away. So even though parents are worried about it and rightfully so, there is nothing to be worry about, as with time, the baby’s circulatory system will grow and develop and the discoloration of the skin will also go away. When the child is growing, parents may notice that his/her hands and/or feet develop a bluish coloration compared to the other body parts and pretty much apparent. Apart from that, a child can also show a pinkish appearance on side of the body, whereas blue on the rest. In such cases, the children will cry a lot, indicating mottling of skin. This mottling also happens if the child is cold. All of these are signs of a developing circulatory system. For children who are a few years old, they might feel somewhat withdrawn, or feel a lower self esteem due to their skin appearance. As and when the circulatory system will develop, these symptoms will go away and so will the discoloration of skin. In the rarest of cases, this mottled skin condition could be persistent. If this happens, parents should immediately consult a pediatrician.

Mottling of skin on arms and legs: As mentioned earlier, mottling of skin is the formation of red patches on the skin surface, mostly on legs, arms or on trunk of a person. Eventually, these red patches turn into purple, and then into dark brown over a period of time. The underlying disorder due to which mottling of skin occurs will decide its course of treatment. For the other cases, some lotions or some topical creams can be applied. However, most doctors have said that unless the causes for mottled skin are reversed, there isn’t any treatment for the same. Some suggest that the affected area can be warmed to cure, but it only assists temporarily. The blood vessels which are affected will become dilated and thereby will allow more blood to get accumulated under the surface of the skin. In a few other rare cases, mottled skin may become permanent.

Treatments for mottled skin

In mottled skin there is a discoloration of skin where there is a change of blood vessel which leads to a formation of patches on the skin. For the same reason, the available treatment options for mottled skin majorly include topical remedies, laser or laser resurfacing, photo rejuvenation and chemical peeling, all of which methods are light-based. Understandably, some of these methods will work better compared to the others ones and it depends on the patches. Moreover, the level of the skin pigmentation on the person also decides the course of treatment. The reason why this is how it works because people with a lighter skin tone are affected more than the ones with a darker skin tone.

  • This treatment method will not cure the condition, but certain topical methods are something that a person can try. There are various dyes and lotions available in the market which help in bleaching of the skin. This way, the affected portion can be lightened and the patches won’t be visible. There are various cosmetics as well, which serve the same purpose, but the only catch with these methods is that they won’t actually cure the condition, they will only help to cover the patches or the discoloration.
  • Through exfoliation, chemical peeling method can improve the skin problems or the skin discoloration. For this method, one needs to apply that particular chemical solution depending on the severity of the condition, and let it seep deep into the skin. This solution will wear out, within the given frame of time which could be a few days or a week or two, and will also destroy the affected skin parts, thereby giving a way for the growth of new skin. Currently, these are kinds of chemical peels available – deep, medium and superficial. Each of these can be used according to the type and severity of the discoloration.
  • Photo rejuvenation, a yet another method of treatment for mottled skin is a light based method including strong light pulses. These penetrate deepest skin layers. The advantage of this method that there are no chemicals used, so there is hardly any chance of a damage of outer skin.
  • For laser resurfacing method, it is done along with chemical peeling for achieving better results. Both of these methods are quite similar, as both of them involve getting rid of the affected parts of skin. The only difference is that for laser resurfacing, no chemicals are used. It includes usage of lasers – wounding or no wounding. Thin skin layers are done away by wounding lasers, whereas stimulation of collagen growth and tightening of skin is done by the non wounding lasers.

Homemade remedies for mottling of skin

One can always rely on some well known homemade remedies for mottled skin. Usually, they are very effective. Have a look:

Green tea for treating mottled skin: it is well known that green tea acts a great anti-inflammatory agent, which is naturally present in it. Moreover, green tea also has solid anti oxidant properties which can help you with the skin patches and also if there is any kind of skin swelling being uncomforting.

What you’ll require: 1 tablespoon rice flour, I green tea bag, a cup of warm of water.

Method: Take the green tea bag and soak it for 15 minutes in warm water and then strain it, keeping the tea bag. Add some rice flour to it and mix to make it like a paste. Alternatively, you can also use oatmeal powder instead of rice flour. Take a washcloth, dip it in the tea and place it on the areas affected. If it’s a paste, it can be applied on the affected areas like a face mask. Either way, leave it for 20 minutes on the affected areas and then wash it using clean water. This procedure can be repeated thrice a week.

Yogurt for treating mottled skin: since there is lactic acid in yogurt, which is actually an alpha hydroxyl acid is a major ingredient present in many cosmetics used for skin.

What you’ll require: plain yogurt

Method: take some yogurt and apply it on the patches or discoloration for about half an hour. After that, wash it off with lukewarm water. You can do this thrice a week.

Aloe Vera for treating mottled skin: aloe vera is the most commonly used herb for treating a variety of skin diseases, given its soothing abilities. Aloe vera is also available in gel forms which can make you feel cool on the skin surface. It is also used to fight the effects of sun, pollution and dust on our skin. These things lead to cuts and rashes on our skin which can be easily cured using aloe vera.

What you’ll require: aloe vera (gel or natural) and cotton ball

Method: take some aloe vera gel or squeeze out some from the leaf and apply it on the affected parts using cotton balls or directly with the help of your fingers. Let it for some time. You can also keep it without washing but if you being to feel sticky; you can wash it off after about half an hour.

Coconut oil for the treatment of mottled skin: Because of its anti microbial and anti septic properties, coconut oil can be used for treating mottled skin.
What you’ll require: just coconut oil

Method: Take some coconut oil on your fingers and gently rub it on your affected parts of the skin for a few minutes. Leave it as it is for a while so that the skin will absorb the oil. You can do this multiple times a week so that you can deal with the dryness of the coloration of the skin.

Making scrub using coconut oil for the treatment of mottled skin

You’ll need a tablespoon honey, a tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Mix all of these together. We add honey as it gives extra moisture to the skin. Use this as a scrub on the affected area gently for some minutes. Use clean water to wash it off and repeat this method twice a week.

Baking soda for treating mottled skin: certain skin conditions need to be exfoliated gently to get rid of the skin patches due to dead cells of the skin. For this purpose, baking soda can be used, as it helps opening up the clogged pores as well for deeply cleansing the skin. This helps to get a skin tone which can be called even.

What you’ll require: 3 tablespoon baking soda, some water

Method: take the water and baking soda, mix it will and make it a paste. Use it as a scrub and gently scrub it on the affected areas for about half an hour. Wash it off using clean water. You can do this once every 3 days or daily.

Oatmeal for treating mottled skin: oatmeal is a great moisturizing agent which can rehydrate the dry skin which could be a reason why you have mottled skin. Avenanthramides present in oatmeal contains anti oxidant and anti inflammatory properties. These help to get rid of the redness of skin.

Using oatmeal as a mask

What you’ll require: half tablespoon honey, 3 tablespoon warm water and 2 tablespoons honey

Method: Grind the oats and bring them to a powder form, add water and honey, mix well and make it into a paste. Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it for 15 minutes. After that, gently massage your skin and let it be for another 10 minutes. Lastly, use lukewarm water to wash it off. You can repeat this process for 4-3 times every week.

Using oatmeal bath for treating mottled skin: if your entire or major parts of the body are affected by mottled skin, you should take an oatmeal bath.

What you’ll require: a cup of oatmeal bath and lukewarm water for bath

Method: add some oatmeal powder to the bath filled with lukewarm water and mix well. Get into the bath and soak yourself for 20 minutes. Take a shower after that and pat your skin dry with a clean towel. You can repeat the method 3-4 times in one week.


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