Why does cutis marmorata occur in babies?

Why does cutis marmorata occur in babies?

Cutis marmorata is a normal alteration of the skin of newborns and infants. They are bluish spots with a reticulated appearance (like making paths) that appear on the skin of the trunk, arms and legs, giving a “marble” appearance, with irregular darker lines between paler spaces.

Content Summary

  • Causes of marbled skin
  • Evolution and treatment
  • Differential diagnosis
    • harlequin coloring
    • peripheral cyanosis
    • central cyanosis

Causes of marbled skin

The cause of cutis marmorata is the immaturity of the newborn. The newborn has a great vasomotor instability that can produce this characteristic skin coloration, similar to marbling. It usually appears when the child is in a cold environment . Newborn babies do not regulate temperature well and together with the instability of the blood vessels in the attempt to regulate it, this phenomenon appears.
This manifestation can also be observed in the older child , coinciding with the sudden increase in temperature in a febrile peak.

Evolution and treatment

It does not need any type of treatment and it disappears when we shelter the child. It definitely usually disappears with time and the maturation of the baby.


Differential diagnosis

We must differentiate it from two other situations in the newborn’s skin related to other phenomena: harlequin coloration and cyanosis .

harlequin coloring

It is a vasomotor phenomenon without clinical importance, which consists of half the body being much more rosy than the other . The line of separation is sometimes very well defined. It occurs in the first 3-5 days and is very rare. It resolves spontaneously .

peripheral cyanosis

During the first hours of life, Caucasian newborns have a rosy skin except for the hands and feet, which may have a bluish coloration called cyanosis.  The color of the hands or feet improves with gentle friction by achieving a rapid vasomotor reaction. If peripheral cyanosis persists for more than 24 hours , it is interpreted as a warning sign and we should study the baby to rule out infection, metabolic disorders or lung diseases.

central cyanosis

The bluish color is present on the lips and tongue and does not improve with increasing temperature. If the origin is due to respiratory pathology , the color will improve with the administration of oxygen , but if it is cardiac , we will not notice changes with oxygen. It is a serious situation that requires an exhaustive study of the newborn.

What you should know…

  • It is a normal alteration of the skin of the newborn, caused by its immaturity and that usually appears when it is in a cold environment.
  • It does not need any type of treatment and disappears as soon as we shelter the child.
  • There are two other situations in which the newborn’s skin has a particular coloration but which must be differentiated from this one.
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts