Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is Livedo Reticularis?
This is a benign, which means non-cancerous, vascular medical condition which commonly affects your capillaries and superficial blood vessels. It will usually appear on your legs, arms, soles of your feet, and palms of your hands.
In rare cases it will appear on your torso. It will give these areas a lace-like or mottled net-lace like appearance with bluish or purplish discoloration that is non-blanchable which means that when you press on your skin it will not turn purple or white.
Livedo reticularis is derived from the Latin words livere which means bluish and reticular which means a net-like appearance. It can affect all people of any age, race, sex, or gender. It may appear to get worse when a person is exposed to cold temperatures.
Livedo Reticularis Symptoms
What symptoms a person who has livedo reticularis has will vary from person to person. Many times there are no symptoms.
Some of the more common symptoms may include:
- Having a bluish or purplish rash with a pattern that is irregular.
- Having a net-like pattern that has less than a three centimeter diameter of mesh.
- Having a rash that is not itchy.
- There are no distinct borders and in some areas it may be pale.
- Swollen or painful associated joints.
- Numbness or tingling.
- Having swelling of the area.
- In a rare and severe case it can lead to ulcers.
Livedo Reticularis Causes
Livedo reticularis can be considered an idiopathic disorder which means that the cause is not known and it can happen spontaneously but there are many factors that can cause the mottling appearance of your skin. Some of those factors may include:
- Swelling of the medium sized blood vessels that cause the pooling of blood into a certain area. This also included your capillaries.
- An interruption of the normal flow of blood that can be caused by vascular obstructions from things such as blood clots, vessel wall anomalies, or infections.
- Having a reaction to cold weather where the vasoconstriction of your blood vessels occurs. This is a common occurrence among adults and children.
- Having autoimmune response or hormonal change, which is more common in women during their thirties
- Having Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sneddon’s syndrome, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus can also have present livedo reticularis when they have these diseases. It can also happen in some forms of cancer.
- Having side effects or an allergic reaction to certain medications or drugs, especially if the medications or drugs contain cocaine or hydroxyurea.
- In rare cases it could be a complication of chronic renal dialysis which is referred to as calciphylaxis.
- In some children it is due to neurological problems or inherited because of chromosome abnormalities.
- It can be caused by spasms of your blood vessels.
- In the winter time it is caused by the contraction of your blood vessels when they get cold.
Basically when you have livedo reticularis your blood vessels and capillaries have opened and dilated causing the blood to collect in a pool resulting in the blue or red markings on your skin.
Although in most cases livedo reticularis is benign it is could also indicate underlying conditions so it is best to see your physician for the proper diagnosis.
The physician is able to diagnosis livedo reticularis by the appearance of your skin along with patient history and a complete medical exam.
Normally livedo reticularis does not require any treatment and when treatment is done it focuses on a specific symptom of livedo reticularis. If the cause is cold weather you can help the condition improving by warming up the area by covering it or applying a warm heating pad.
If there is a secondary cause you need to see your physician to be evaluated and be treated for the cause of livedo reticularis. If it happens in your lower leg it could be caused by a pooling of blood in the area so you should elevate your leg, apply a warm heating pad to increase the circulation in your lower leg, or do exercises such as ankle pumping.
Make sure that you do not apply anything cold to this area. The symptoms of skin mottling over time can become permanent, especially if it caused by a systemic issue. If the cause is Rheumatoid Arthritis your physician may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication or you can also get them over-the-counter.
Taking this medication will help to alleviate and/or decrease the swelling and pain that is associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Your physician may also prescribe medications such as corticosteroids, anti-platelets, or anticoagulants.
If poor circulation is the cause of livedo reticularis, it is important that you take proper care of your feet and make sure that you are wearing the proper shoes and they fit correctly because in severe cases you can develop ulcers, especially on your feet.
When you take proper care of your feet and have correct footwear these will help to lessen the effects of having poor blood circulation. Having livedo reticularis is a disorder that is ongoing and it may or may not clear up entirely. It all depends on what the cause is for having livedo reticularis.
You should see your physician if you notice that the symptoms are becoming severe so you can get the proper treatment, especially if there is an underlying cause for livedo reticularis. You can also take an aspirin or fish oil supplement that contain omega-3 fatty acids to help thin your blood but check with your physician first before taking any supplements or aspirin.
You can also massage the affected areas to help increase the blood circulation.
Livedo Reticularis Pictures
Photos, Images and Pictures of Livedo Reticularis…