Mottled Skin: Treatment, Causes, Symptoms and More

As people grow old, their skin begins to look wrinkled and patchy. We often find it just an impression of the growing age since the body’s inner mechanism shifts tremendously. But some skin diseases are a sign reflecting something utterly severe and fatal. We are here talking about Mottled skin conditions. 

You would have often witnessed middle-aged or older women having purple-colored blotches on the skin that make them look even sicker. This purple-looking skin is known as Mottled Skin. This skin discoloration disease has possibly several causes, but sometimes no apparent cause could be diagnosed to state the reason for the skin disease occurrence clearly. 

This article will help you walk through every possible cause of Mottled skin and the symptoms one could experience while experiencing the skin disease.

What is Mottled Skin?

mottled skin


Medically known as Livedo Reticularis, Mottled Skin is when a person experiences a skin turned completely purplish or reddish. Sometimes there is no regularity on the skin’s color appearance, and it could undoubtedly differ from one person to another. 

Usually, the color pattern appears in web or lace-like patches surrounding the skin that looks very pale and visibly find marble-like discolored spots on the skin. Now, when it comes to precisely understanding the reasons behind Mottled skin, remember that the disease does not have to be a consequence of another health condition. 

As we mentioned previously in the article, Mottled Skin could be an individual health issue, and the doctors might not specifically find any cause. However, some recurrent reasons also lead to Livedo Reticularis.

All the Probable Mottled Skin Causes

To understand the causes of Mottled Skin, we must first analyze what exactly takes place under the skin that leads to patches and blotchy scars on skin? Usually, our blood circulation inside the body has a uniform flow and helps in keeping the skin cells healthy

However, in situations of low oxygen received by the blood, it automatically pressurizes and influences the oxygen level of the skin cells. As a result, all the deoxygenated hemoglobin accumulates under the skin, making the skin appear blotchy and pale from the exterior. 

If you have an elder at your home, you often have seen their hands and legs have mottled skin. There is no prevailing reason for that, but it is just a sign of age as older people have a slower blood circulation mechanism inside the body. 

However, when your body starts showing other signs of disease, such as difficulty breathing with less oxygenated blood circulation to the skin cells. Thus, it would require treating the prevailing health condition, and the appearance of bruise-like spots on the skin that aren’t bruised would automatically go away. 

As Dr. Roger Henderson explains to NetDoctor,

The potential causes in a diagnosis are only ruled out when it is confirmed that an older adult will experience Mottled skin over a specific period. However, the Secondary reason of Livedo Reticularis (also known as livedo racemose) is associated with a range of systemic diseases.


If you are sensitive to sunlight and it leads to a butterfly-shaped rash on your face that covers both the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, then you are probably experiencing Lupus Mottled Skin. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that could further also transform into an inflammatory condition.

According to Medical News Today, there has been ongoing research about Lupus by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. However, there are other symptoms that one could experience while witnessing Lupus apart from Mottled Skin.

Some Other Symptoms of Lupus

  • Short Breathing Issues
  • Moderate to Severe Chest Pain
  • More rashes and blotches on the skin due to sun’s exposure
  • During cold, the person’s toes and fingers would turn white or blue due to less oxygen to the skin cells. 
  • The feeling of Fatigue and Fever
  • Pain, Stiffness, and swelling in the joints

mottled skin


Infection Causing Sepsis

Centre for Disease Control (CDC) mentions that sepsis is one dangerous response of our body to any infection that has spread inside the body to the point that now it requires immediate medical intervention. 

CDC also informs that whenever any prevailing infection worsens, it tends to develop/trigger a chain of reactions inside the body. Sepsis could occur inside the lungs, Gastrointestinal tract, Urinary tract, and even on the skin. The development of severe reactions on the skin creates blotches and web-like patterns, making the skin look pale. 

Hence it is known as mottled skin sepsis. If a patient does not receive timely treatment for Sepsis, it indeed turns deadly. However, if treated in time, the Mottled skin would gradually recover. Here is what other symptoms one could experience apart from Mottled Skin:

Some Other Symptoms of Sepsis

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Extreme Pain and Discomfort due to disseminated infection
  • A consistent sweaty skin
  • Feeling chills and feverish.
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • The feeling of Confusion


The thyroid Gland helps in maintaining the body’s metabolism rate. So when the gland becomes inactive and does not release enough hormones to keep one energetic throughout the day, it leads to Hypothyroidism. The condition is most common in middle-aged women who have crossed their 40s. 

All American Hospice informs about a study that stated that about 80% of individuals who experience Hypothyroidism are prone to suffer from Epidermis, which is a skin condition that makes the skin too dry, blotchy, and mottled. Apart from Mottled Skin being one of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism, there are a few more such as:

Some Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Mood Swings
  • Depression
  • Weight Gain
  • Lazy and Fatigue Feeling

mottled skin


Antiphospholipid Syndrome 

It is another auto-immune disease also known by the name Hughes Syndrome. Here in this Syndrome, some of the abnormal antibodies in the body are connected with blood clots abnormally developing in the arteries, primarily affecting the legs. 

The primary sign of the disease is discoloration of the skin due to not enough oxygenated blood reaching the skin cells. Along with the appearance of Mottled Skin, the patient’s skin would show reddish and purple color in irregularity.

The disease mainly occurs in young to middle-aged adults. Other than skin discoloration, other symptoms could be:

Some Other Symptoms of Hughes Syndrome

  • Blood Clots occur in the large veins in the arms, legs, etc.
  • Blood Circulation Problems
  • Leg ulcers due to the improper blood supply to the veins and arteries.

Consumption of Medications

Certain medications, such as catecholamines, Minocin, or Amantadine, could show reactions in your body, especially in the form of Mottled Skin. Different people might have other symptoms based on their body’s response to a medication. Older adults with Parkinson’s disease might have drugs that cause a reaction in the body in the form of Mottled Skin.

Cold Temperature

People exposed to freezy chill temperate zones might experience Mottled and blotchy skin due to deficient oxygen levels in those locations. Since it becomes difficult for you to get oxygen, it certainly is problematic for the blood in your body to pump enough oxygenated blood to the veins, vessels, etc. Your heart rate relatively becomes lower. In such a situation, the skin automatically becomes paler. You need to immediately shift to a warm place such as a fireplace or blower to warm your body enough and regain the oxygen. 


Pancreatitis is a condition that leads to the inflammation of the Pancreas. If it turns acute and the damage reaches other body organs, it could be fatal for a person. The conditions occur in alcoholics or in people who have suffered a recurrent state of Gallstones. 

When you begin witnessing primary symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis, Mottled Skin will occur post three days of other signs of the disease. These additional symptoms of the condition include:

Some Other Symptoms of Pancreatitis

  • Feeling of Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Acute Abdominal Pain

End-Of-Life Mottled Skin

Usually, when a person is closer to their death, their body begins showing signs of the same. The skin seems more pale and patchy than usual, and that is what we call Mottled Skin. A patient with a terminal illness like Cancer or an older person would experience Livedo Reticularis. Other than that, there are more signs a person going-to-meet-their-end shows, such as:

Some Other Symptoms Before Death

  • Refusing to consume food or water
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Being Unconscious most of the times
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Extreme Weakness

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another autoimmune disorder in the list includes Rheumatoid Arthritis. Since it is primarily a disease concerned with the inflammation of the joints, it majorly influences the joints that lead to swelling and pain in them. There are chances that it shows other symptoms and affects other organs too. 

However, amongst several other recurrent symptoms of the disorder, Mottled Skin and blotchy patches on the skin have been experienced by many patients. It is because the autoimmune disorders’ inflammatory condition deeply affects the blood vessels. Here are some other common signs of the disease: 

Some Other Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Low-Level Feverish Feeling
  • Stiffness in the joints along with pain for a longer time
  • The appearance of lumps under the skin in different parts of the body
  • Severe Weight loss
  • Fatigues
  • Signs of Anemia

mottled skin


Also Read: Perfect Summer Skin Care Routine In A Step By Step Order

Mottled Skin baby

We stated several possible reasons why Mottled skin appears in some people; however, blotchy skin is sometimes visible in Newborn babies. A source says that Livedo Rectularis is primarily seen in older women. 

But some infants also have this type of skin due to their body’s exposure to sudden cold climate. If you keep the baby warm enough for some time by wrapping them in a soft blanket, the purplish appearance or Mottled appearance of the skin would slowly fade away. 

Ways to Cure Mottled Skin

Now that we have discussed almost all the possible reasons for Livedo reticularis, it’s time to find some potential treatment.

  • For all the autoimmune diseases we mentioned above in the article, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or  Hughes Syndrome, speaking to an expert and getting the diagnosis not only help reduce the Mottled Skin, but with proper medication, these inflammatory conditions improve.
  • Long-term treatment that would involve anti-inflammatory drugs and a change in living style would undoubtedly impact Acute Pancreatitis. On the other hand, the Mottled skin would disappear. 
  • People with issues like exposure to sunlight must consult with a skin specialist to diagnose the precise skin condition. Get a recommendation for an ointment that protects the skin from the sun’s rays.
  • If you live in a cold temperature with lower levels of oxygen, be surrounded by a warm place with a blower or heater to bring back the temperature of your body to normal and reduce the paleness of the skin.

Key Takeaway

Remember that Mottled Skin causes would differ based on whether or not you are experiencing any health condition. The appearance of the web or lace-like patches on your skin would also be different. You need to visit your doctor if the blotchy skin appears suddenly without any apparent reason known to you. With the proper care, it would go away permanently.

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