Blanching Skin: 7 Causes, Test & Easy Way To Treat

Have you ever seen the skin turn pale or white in color? That condition is known as blanching skin. Blanching means to turn pale or whitish. The skin can turn pale due to disease, skin conditions and lack of blood flow to an area for some period of time. Doctors can also examined the skin especially if they want to carry out test or discover findings on the skin. 

The best way to treat skin blanching is to first find out the cause of the condition before looking for the best treatment option available. You are expected to see a doctor if your skin blanching comes with pain. 

WHAT IS BLANCHING SKIN

Blanching skin is a condition whereby the skin becomes white for a period of time after pressure is applied. The area that is blanched lacks normal blood flow for sometime, this is because there is a temporary obstruction of blood to the area. Blanching skin can be used by doctors especially dermatologists to check for issues in the skin or even blood vessels, the procedure is known as diascopy.

A glass slide is pressed on the skin for sometime to see if it will turn white or go away. Blanching of the skin is also an indication of a skin inflammation called erythema. Although there are other symptoms of this skin condition, blanching is one of the major. 

WHAT CAUSES BLANCHING OF THE SKIN

There are many causes of blanching, some are simple and minor while others are complex. 

1. Frostbite

Frostbite is caused by excess exposure of the skin to cold. Excess exposure to cold will make the blood vessels to get narrow and blood flow is diverted from parts of the skin like the fingers and toes. As more cold is absorbed, the lack of blood makes the skin to turn pale and white.

2. Erythema

This is also known as skin redness, it can be caused by sunburn, allergic reaction or due to exertion. Erythema can also be a cause of skin blanching.

3. Blood Vessels on the Skin

There are some blood vessels that can blanch the skin, example of such blood vessel is the spider vein. This vein does not cause any pain and they are found in many disorders like liver disease, rosacea or even pregnancy.

4. Pressure Sores

One of the major indicator of an impeding skin ulcer or sore is blanching of the skin. This normally occur in the early formation stage. These sores are caused by decrease in blood flow to an area due to constant pressure. 

5. Bier’s Spots

These are small, hypopigmented discoloration on the skin, they are normally found on the legs, arms and can cause the area where they occur to look white.

6. Livedo Reticularis

This is a reddish-purplish, web-like pattern discoloration of the skin, they appear in circles and causes the affected areas to become pale.

7. Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a disease that narrows the arterial blood vessels, it causes pain, numbness and blanching of the skin. Raynaud’s phenomenon affects the fingers and toes although the symptoms can show on the lips, ears and mouth; about 5 percent of Americans suffer or have this disease.

Blanching Skin
Blanching Skin

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS OF BLANCHING SKIN

The first sign of blanching skin is the white or pale appearance of the skin. Apart from this, there may be other signs like:

  • The skin appears white when pressure is applied but it does not return to normal within a few seconds after the pressure is removed. 
  • The skin area where blood flow does not get to is cooler than the rest of the body.
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • The skin may turn blue if blood flow is occluded severely and for a long time. 

BLANCHING SKIN TEST

Blanching skin test is done to determine the amount of blood flow to the tissue, it is also done to check or monitor dehydration. This test does not need any tool or diagnostic equipment, it only requires that a health personnel presses the fingertips and exerts mild pressure for sometime, then quickly releasing the fingertips to check if there will be whitening of the skin. 

To carry out a blanching skin test, follow the steps below:

  • Press your skin, especially the fingertips. You can choose any area that is pink, red or darkened.
  • Exert pressure on the fingertips, the area should turn white.
  • Release the fingertips to remove the pressure.
  • Few seconds after the pressure is removed, the area should go back to its original color, this is an indication of normal blood flow. 

Another method can be used for this test but it requires the use of a clear glass, this is known as diascopy. This method is more advanced than pressing the fingertips and it involves the following steps:

  • Press a clear glass or plastic on the skin, the clear glass or plastic will help to view if the skin will turn white when pressure is applied.
  • Press on the glass with your fingertips to exert pressure, view through the clear glass to see the colour of the skin.
  • Remove your fingers and pressure
  • Check the skin for sometime to see if it will be whitish and pale for a long time or if it will go back to its original color which is good. 

BLANCHING VS NON BLANCHING SKIN

There are some skin that does not blanch especially if they have rashes. In fact, skin rashes are divided into blanching and non-blanching. Blanching skin rash is characterized by rashes that disappear and turn white when you press the skin whereas non-blanching does not disappear even when you press the skin.

Non-blanching occur due to bleeding beneath the surface of the skin. To know whether you have a blanching skin rash or non-blanching skin rash, you must do the glass test. It is difficult to differentiate both as they look the same without the glass. To know which you have:

  • Press glass against the skin and exert pressure
  • If the rashes disappears and the area turns white, then it is blanching
  • If you can see the rashes, then it is non-blanching.

HOW TO TREAT BLANCHING SKIN

To treat skin blanching, it is best to know the underlying cause as it will determine the treatment method to use. 

1. Frostbite

The most important or first treatment for blanching caused by frostbite is to avoid exposing the affected area to more cold and heat should be introduced. Other steps like thrombolytic therapy will be used to break blood clots and restore blood flow.

2. Pressure Ulcers

Changing positions every 15 minutes will help to relieve pressure from the area. You should also wash the ulcers or sores with either warm water and mild soap or a saline rinse. Covering the sore can be recommended by your health provider. You can gently massage the area to improve how blood flows around as well.

3. Spider Veins

A procedure known as sclerotherapy can be used to treat blanching caused by spider veins. This procedure involves inserting an injection of medicine into the veins to close them. 

4. Raynaud’s Phenomenon or Disease

To treat this disease, you will avoid exposing your body to cold by wearing gloves, hats, socks and scarfs to keep the body warm. You can also wear finger guards on your fingers if you have sores, you should also avoid activities or tools that cause the hands to vibrate. During winter, you should take blood pressure medicines to avoid narrowing of the blood vessels. 

5. Livedo Reticularis

Treating livedo reticularis will help to treat blanching as well. The only treatment for this disease is to keep the body warm at all times.

6. Bier’s Spots

Bier’s spots do not require any treatment because it is a physiological phenomenon.

IS BLANCHING OF THE SKIN GOOD OR BAD

Blanching of the skin affects just an area of the body. Blanching is not a good reaction especially if the blood flow does not return to normal. 

Blanching is a sign of:

  • Cold
  • Swelling around an area
  • Lack of blood supply
  • Insufficient blood flow through the vessels
  • Lack of blood circulation.

BLANCHING SKIN AFTER FILLER

Some people notice their skin turning white and pale after facial filler, this is one of the effects of facial fillers. The blanching occurs after some days or weeks of getting the injection and it affect the injection sites. One of the causes of blanching skin after getting fillers is when the injection is placed on the surface of the skin; it is expected that the injection goes deeper into the skin to have effects.

Placing them superficially in the skin can make them to pool together and make the skin to turn white. Another reason for the skin turning pale or white after filler is if the injection is inserted into any artery which can decrease blood flow. To treat the blanching, the patient can smoothen out the affected area by using firm, gentle motion with the fingernails. Within minutes, the blanching should disappear. 

CONCLUSION

Blanching skin occurs when the skin turns white or pale especially if pressure is exerted on an area thereby causing lack of blood flow. When the pressure is removed, blood flow returns back to normal. There are many causes of this condition including diseases, cold, skin issues and even wrong application of facial fillers. The treatment will be dependent on the cause, so finding out the cause is more important than treating blanching. 

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