Livedo reticularis is a skin condition that causes skin discoloration in what is termed a “mottled” pattern. It may be either extremely benign or a symptom of more serious underlying conditions. It’s usually not something that can be treated, and for many people, the reddish or sometimes bluish markings that resemble a net go completely away and don’t return. Other people may end up with permanent signs of livedo reticularis, if the condition occurs often or is underscored by systemic issues.
The actual cause of the condition is underneath the skin in the upper blood vessels and capillaries. If these open and dilate, blood may collect in a pool. This translates to red or blue marking on the skin, most often in areas like the arms, legs, and back. Sometimes infants may show this, especially in response to cold. It’s not an uncommon response to cold in adults, either, especially in women. Usually, once the skin is warm, the mottling disappears, but if it occurs very often, appearance of redness on the skin might begin to remain, and there is no way to rid the skin of its appearance.
Although this condition may be benign in many cases, it may well indicate underlying problems. One of the most serious of these is lupus, an autoimmune disorder. Other illnesses that have been associated with developing temporary or permanent livedo reticularis include rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, lymphoma, and a variety of conditions that create swollen blood vessels, which may all be termed vasculitis.
Other potential causes of livedo reticularis that can be serious, and can explain dilation of blood vessels, include those conditions or factors that result in blockage or obstruction of blood vessels. High platelet amounts or presence of blood clots could result in it, as could blockages caused by infection or by obstructions that are created during certain activities such as an injection.
While many people who temporarily have this condition recover fully without another bout, or only have expression of the condition when exposed to cold, others may have a much harder time due to underlying causal factors. Unfortunately, treating these factors doesn’t necessarily get rid of mottled skin appearance. Nevertheless, presence of this skin condition is well worth exploring because the conditions that can cause it may very well need treatment and should not be ignored. If people note anything but the most transient appearance of livedo reticularis, and particularly if they notice it recurring, they need to mention this to doctors.