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Livedo Reticularis

Definition

Livedo reticularis is a disorder in which blood vessels are narrowed. It results in mottled discoloring on large areas of the legs or arms.

What is going on in the body?

The mottled look seen in a person with livedo reticularis occurs when some of the blood vessels feeding the skin go into spasm. Anything that decreases blood flow further, such as exposure to cold, will make the condition worse.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The exact cause of livedo reticularis is unknown. It occurs more often in women, and usually begins when a person is in his or her thirties.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

To minimize livedo reticularis, a person can avoid cold temperatures.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Livedo reticularis is diagnosed by the appearance of the skin.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Livedo reticularis may, over time, become permanent, rather than just being associated with cold. Ulcers in the lower extremities may occur in severe cases.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Because livedo reticularis is not contagious, there are no risks to others.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

There is no treatment for livedo reticularis.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

There are no side effects, since there is no treatment.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Livedo reticularis is an ongoing disorder and not expected to resolve.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

Livedo reticularis can be monitored by the affected person. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to a healthcare professional.

Sources

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 1998, Fauci et al.

Tierney, Lawrence, editor, "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 39th edition", 2000

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