What causes livedo reticularis? When should I see a doctor?

Answer From Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

Livedo reticularis is thought to be due to spasms of the blood vessels or a problem of the blood flow near the skin surface. It makes the skin look mottled in sort of a net pattern with clear borders. The condition most often shows up on the legs.

Sometimes livedo reticularis is simply the result of being chilled. And it may occur as a side effect of certain medications. A rarer, related condition called livedo racemosa may be caused by a serious underlying condition.

When to see a doctor

The condition usually clears up without treatment. See your health care provider if:

  • The discolored, mottled skin doesn't go away with warming
  • You have discolored, mottled skin along with other symptoms that concern you
  • Painful lumps develop in the affected skin
  • Sores develop in the affected skin
  • You also have a condition that affects the blood flow in your limbs
  • Your skin symptoms are new and you have a connective tissue disease

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March 08, 2024 See more Expert Answers