What is Mottled Skin?
Skin which has net-like or lacy patches is known as mottled skin. There is discoloration of skin in the shape of irregular patches. The cause of mottled skin is blood vessels changes, such as constriction of the blood vessels, which are present directly under the surface of the skin. Some of the common causes of this include changes in body temperature, certain blood disorders, advanced age, excessive exposure to sun, use of coagulants, decreased platelet count and certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Mottled skin often appears as red patches on the arms, trunk and legs. Mottled skin turns purple and dark brown over a period of time. These patches are more clearly visible in individuals who are light-skinned. In dark-skinned people, the patches are not as visible; however, they are also equally affected. Mottled skin becomes more apparent in cold conditions. Patient does not experience any pain with this condition.
Mottled skin differs from other skin discolorations as it results from changes in the underlying blood vessels. As mentioned before, patient experiences no pain from mottling of the skin; however, patient can become self-consciousness or can experience psychological distress due to this condition.
What are the Causes of Mottled Skin?
Blood vessels are network of tubes which helping in transportation/circulation of blood from the heart to the rest of the body and then bring the blood back again to the heart. Some of the blood vessels are present just under the skin's surface. This makes them more apparent, especially in light skinned individuals. Certain medical conditions can also cause changes in the blood vessels and result in the skin mottling. Some of the causes include: Changes (increase/decrease) in the body temperature, blood disorders, aging process, heart disease, coagulants, increased sun exposure, reduced platelet count and certain diseases.
What are the Symptoms of Mottled Skin?
The primary symptom of mottled skin is appearance of lacy network of purple or red patches on the skin. These occur due to constriction of the blood vessels, which hinders the blood circulation throughout the body. This causes pooling of the blood in certain areas which are close to the surface of the skin.
The skin mottling patches are more visible in individuals with decreased skin pigmentation, as the blood vessels are often more easily seen in people who have more translucent skin. Individuals with darker skin may not have such obvious mottling patches; however, will still have the same type of blood vessel changes as with the fair skinned people.
Rarely, mottled skin can be an indication of a serious condition, which requires prompt medical attention. If the patient experiences abrupt mottling of the skin, along with other symptoms, such as pain or breathing difficulties, then it could be that the patient is suffering from a shock. In such cases, patient should seek immediate medical attention.
What is the Treatment for Mottled Skin?
Treating the underlying cause will help in resolving the mottled skin. In many patients, lotions and topical creams can be used to treat mottled skin. Individuals who are at higher risk for skin mottling, such as fair skinned people are recommended to wear protective clothing when the skin gets exposed to extreme cold or hot temperatures. There is no permanent treatment as such for mottled skin until the underlying cause that is causing the patches can be reversed. If the mottling of the skin is resulting from a specific condition, then once that condition is resolved, the mottling will also disappear. Temporary relief can be achieved by warming the area of mottled skin; however, the blood vessels which are affected commonly dilate more over the time, which allows more blood to collect under the surface of the skin. In few patients, the mottling pattern becomes permanent.