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Why does my skin on my legs look mottled and purplish?

Source: Mayo Clinic: Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.


Livedo reticularis is thought to be due to spasms of the blood vessels or an abnormality of the circulation near the skin surface. It makes the skin, usually on the legs, look mottled and purplish, in sort of a netlike pattern with distinct borders. Sometimes livedo reticularis is simply the result of being chilled. But it may be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, such as vascular disease. And it may occur as a side effect of certain medications.



When to see a doctor

The condition usually clears up without treatment. See your doctor in the following situations:

  • The discolored, mottled skin doesn't go away with warming

  • The discolored, mottled skin is accompanied by other signs and symptoms that concern you

  • Painful nodules develop in the affected skin

  • Ulcers develop in the affected skin

  • You also have peripheral vascular diseases.


This is a new development and you are known to have lupus erythematosus or other connective tissue diseases.

5 Comments


Jr & Crystal
Jr & Crystal
May 06

why do my legs do this if its cold or hot

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Maria Daniels
Maria Daniels
Apr 16

This happens to my pregnant daughter when she goes in the sun.

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Grady Smith
Grady Smith
Apr 11, 2022

he's dead lmao

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Kaley Andre
Kaley Andre
Nov 22, 2023
Replying to

I’m not dead and that’s what my legs look like

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Silvia Schmidt
Silvia Schmidt
Jun 11, 2021

My dad says he has mottled skin every once in a while. He also has heart problems but can’t see a heart doctor because they are booked until November. Should he go to the ER?

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