Skin blanching: Causes, Tests, and Treatment Methods

Blanching of the skin is improper whitening of the skin because of reduced blood flow. It is more apparent when blood flow does not return to an area of the skin for a long time after pressure was applied.

The color of the affected area becomes oddly white compared to other parts around that area.

There are different reasons for reduced blood flow to the skin and different ways to check which areas of the skin are blanc. You would learn them in the other sections of this article.

How to check for skin blanching

There are two ways of testing skin blanching.

The first method of testing for areas of skin blanching is by applying pressure.

This method does not require any equipment, so you can do it on your own. The procedures are as follows;

  • Apply mild pressure with your fingertips against your palm.
  • Make sure the amount of pressure is steady for a long time.
  • After some time, release your fingertips and examine the pressured area.
  • The skin would turn white(this is normal), but blood flow would return within a few seconds.

If the blood flow does not return for some time, the area would be white. This indicates blanc skin.

The second method of checking for blanching of the skin is by diascopy.

Just like in the first method, it involves applying pressure, but with transparent glass and a plastic instead of your fingertips.

The instruments are positioned against the skin and then pressed with the fingertips. You could watch the reaction of that area of the skin.

After applying pressure for some time, lift your fingers from the transparent glass, and watch the skin’s reaction. If the skin remains white for a long period, the test is positive.

Signs and symptoms of skin blanching

According to the french meaning of its name, the most common symptom of skin blanching is the white color.

During a diascopy, if the area turns white almost immediately the pressure was applied, it could be a sign of skin blanching.

If after the pressure is applied and the pale pink colour underneath the skin does not return for sometime, it could also stand out as a symptom of skin blanching.

Furthermore, when blood flow is reduced, that area of the skin would have a lower temperature than the surrounding areas.  Also, blue pigmentstiok on the skin is another symptom of blanching of the skin.


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What causes skin blanching?

There are several causes of skin blanching. While some are common, others are rare diseases and occur on unusual occasions.

●    Livedo reticularis

Livedo reticularis is characterized by web-like patterns formed by blood vessels around the skin.

In this condition, there is reduced blood floor to some areas of the skin.

It has the appearance of a mottled skin and is mostly seen on the skin of the hands and legs.

One of the symptoms of this condition is skin blanching (white and pale skin).

●    Raynaud’s syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome is mostly seen in patients with lupus. The condition entails spasmodic constriction of the arteries to reduce blood flow to a certain area.

The most affected areas are the arteries of the fingers and toes. Reduced blood supply to the fingers and toes would cause blanching of the skin covering them. This would make the fingers and toes look white.

●    Frostbite

When you expose your body to cold, blood flow to the tissues, especially the skin, is reduced. This is because the arteries constrict to conserve heat for the body.

When blood flow is reduced from the skin, the skin would look like and white. This is why blanching of the skin is a common effect of frostbite.

However, once you get warm the skin would recieve blood flow in the usual manner.

●    Spider veins

These are dilated small blood vessels on different parts of your body. Spider veins might be caused by an underlying health condition or nothing at all (genetics).

Blood vesels dilate when the area they are supplying needs more blood flow. When the need for more blood is settled, the vessels would constict to their normal sizes.

This does not happen in cases like spider veins. The skin would have blue patches because of pols of blood under the skin.

Other areas might not have these pools and would look white or pale.

Spider veins can be found on any part of the body, especially the legs and face.

Some health conditions that can cause spider veins are; rosacea, pregnancy, liver diseases, etc.

●    Pressure sores

Pressure stores, also known as bed sores, are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue, that are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin.

It is common in people that lie down for long, and people that use wheelchairs.

Blanching of the skin is one of the symptoms of pressure ulcers. Other symptoms of pressure ulcers are;

  • Discolored patches on the skin. The patches are red in pale skin and blue in dark skin.
  • That area feels spongy and hard
  • The patches on the skin would itch and cause pain

How to treat skin blanching

You can treat skin blanching effectively by treating the underlying problem. Therefore as there are different causes of skin blanching, there are different treatment methods.

  • Pressure sores: Clean the sores regularly and treat them with prescribed medications. This is to protect the injuries from getting infected.

Also, use special mattresses that would protect the pressure points from new sores.

When lying or sitting, change positions frequently to prevent new sores.

  • Raynaud’s syndrome: One way to reduce the effect of Raynaud’s syndrome is by keeping yourself warm.

Also, there are pills like Amoldipine that could be used to treat the condition.

However, you would see better results by avoiding cigarettes, caffeinated food, and berverages.

  • Spider veins: The treatment for spider veins is scleroherapy. It entails injecting the veins with a substance that would close them up.

This would prevent pooling of blood under the skin and blanching of the skin in other areas.


Skin blanching is what happens when blood does not flow to some areas of your skin. It is easily noticed when pressure is applied on that area, as it would be pale for a long time.

However, skin blanching can be easily noticed in people of light skin tones. For people of darker skin tones, using the tests explained above might not be effective. Checking with other symptoms like reduced temperatures, blue coloration, etc., would give better results.

Skin blanching can only be treated if the underlying disease is treated completely.



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