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What Causes Blotchy Skin on Legs?

Blotchy skin expert here to answer your questions about blotchy skin on your legs.

Blotchy skin on the legs has several potential causes—read on to find out more.

Blotchy skin on the legs has several potential causes—read on to find out more.

What's Causing the Blotchy Skin on Your Legs?

Blotchy skin on your legs can come in several different forms and have a variety of causes. To find out what is causing your legs to have blotchy skin, you must first take inventory of all your symptoms. Ask yourself:

  • Is the condition new?
  • Does it itch?
  • Have you used any new hygiene products or medications?
  • What color are the blotches?

Blotchiness could come from poor circulation or many sorts of rashes. However, some people experience leg skin blotchiness as a normal part of aging.

Do you have blotchy skin on your legs?

Do you have blotchy skin on your legs?

Is the Condition New? Does It Itch?

The first thing to understand is that if this condition is not new to you and is not causing any discomfort, nothing can or should be done. No medication can relieve normal skin blotchiness on the legs.

However, if this condition is a recent development causing any level of discomfort, you should investigate further and seek medical attention.

Mottled Skin and Livedo Reticularis

In some cases, red or purple blotchy skin, also known as mottled skin, can be the result of livedo reticularis. It's unclear what causes livedo reticularis, but it may be a result of circulation issues.

Have You Used Any New Hygiene Products or Medications?

New hygiene products, such as detergents and soaps, can cause blotchy skin and rashes. They can do this in two ways:

  1. By stripping the skin of its natural oils, drying and irritating the skin, and making it easier for bacteria to colonize.
  2. By causing an allergic reaction, which often appears after some delay. Allergic reactions usually are caused by fragrances and preservatives in the soaps, although other ingredients known to trigger allergies include benzyl alcohol, stearyl or isostearyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, myristyl alcohol, propylene glycol, paragons, and benzalkonium chloride.

Medications can also cause blotchy skin. Many people who show no side effects at first from medicine will experience them as time goes on and the medication builds up in their system.

If you believe your blotchy legs could be a reaction to long-term medication, you should consult your doctor immediately so they can adjust the dosage and confirm whether your medicine is causing the rash.

Common medicines that can cause rashes include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Penicillin
  • Barbiturates
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What Color Are the Blotches?

The first clue as to the cause of the blotches is to determine their color.

Blue

If they are blue, then that may be a sign you may have poor circulation, especially if there are other symptoms like numbness.

Red

If the blotchy area is red, then it is more than likely a dermatitis issue that has arisen from:

  • Medication
  • An allergic reaction, possibly to urushiol oil contained in a plant such as poison ivy or poison oak
  • An auto-immune disorder like psoriasis

A rash caused by a plant containing urushiol oil is fairly easy to identify. The blotchy areas will bubble and be extremely itchy (see the photo below). You can use over-the-counter itch cream to reduce the itchiness.

The one medication that works for poison ivy is prednisone, which is often a last resort for doctors since it can have harsh side effects. To avoid poison ivy rashes and poison oak in the future, wash your skin within 30 minutes of contact to remove the urushiol oils.

Purple

Purple spots that don't turn white with pressure may be purpura, a condition caused by bleeding underneath the skin. See a doctor if this is the case—it may be a reaction to a medication, such as an anticoagulant or diuretic. It may also be caused by another condition, such as an autoimmune disorder.

Other Causes

If you suspect you have psoriasis, you should also consult your doctor. Psoriasis is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks itself, requiring medication to control. Psoriasis is accompanied by blotchy, itchy skin that flakes off the body.

In minor cases, your blotchy skin could be caused by very dry weather. If your skin feels dry and not overly itchy or flaky, try natural moisturizers with no perfumes.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Lyss on September 05, 2019:

I am 13 and started getting this recently. It looks like brown/red spots in the back of my legs and thighs and then when I am in the heat the spots get bigger and more in front. I’ve getting really insecure about it and I don’t know what to do. Can anyone help?

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on June 20, 2019:

You mentioned poor circulation, and the first picture just look like legs that need more blood flow. That's when I know I may need to do some walking, jogging, and/or simply relaxing. Those first legs are very pretty regardless, but that last picture... it concerns me.

I have blotchy skin on my legs, had it for years, I do not take any medication, I just figured it might be poor circulation, also it occurs if its a little cool, I moisturize, so my legs are not dry, on April 11, 2015:

rene

Alex c on March 06, 2015:

Im only 13 and i do have blotchy legs but ive always wondered what it meant and what was happening . This article helped tons. I think i will consult a doctor because ive been taking certain meds over long peeiods of time where i didn't have the blotchy legs at first

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