Mottled skin, a piebald-like purple or blue coloration on the skin, is caused by a vascular condition. The discoloration often resembles a web or lace-like pattern. Mottled skin usually develops on the legs and feet, but it can occur anywhere on the body. While a direct cause is not known, there are a large number of conditions with links to mottled skin.

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1. Classifying Mottled Skin

Experts refer to mottled skin as livedo reticularis. This is a term that describes a variety of conditions that feature mottled discoloration of the skin. “Livedo” describes the mottling color, while “reticular” describes its unique patterning. In some cases, doctors classify the issue more specifically, using terms such as

  • Cutis marmorata: variable mottling
  • Cutis marmorata telangiectatica congenita: rare congenital condition, persistent mottling
  • Primary livedo reticularis: most common form, benign, unknown cause, affects mostly young women during winter
  • Secondary livedo reticularis: livedo with an underlying systemic issue
  • Livedo racemosa: widespread and persistent form
older woman doctor legs gilaxia / Getty Images
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.