Causes and Treatment of Red Spots on Skin
Many conditions can lead to the appearance of red spots on skin.
These are usually hard to ignore because they may also appear with
other accompanying symptoms. Different skin conditions have varying
characteristics which may lead to their diagnosis, and the treatment of
red spots on skin will depend on the underlying cause. Common causes
include acne, allergy, herpes sores and Linchen Planus. These
skin conditions are described below."
Red spots are reddish discolorations in the skin which may
look like bumps, flat marks, irregularly shaped lesions, or discrete
Many factors can cause inflammation, which is the most likely reason
for reddening of the skin. Inflammatory reactions often trigger an
increase in blood flow to an area of the skin where an infection or
irritation occurs. Common factors that can trigger redness and
- Acne: appear as red spots
on skin and bumps
on the skin that may also be filled
pus. These usually occur in the face, neck, shoulders and back.
Red skin spots due to acne
are caused by pores that are blocked by dead skin cells. Stress and a
person’s genetics can make the problem worse. It can be treated and
- Skin allergy: various
allergic conditions like eczema, atopic
dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and hives can manifest as irregularly
shaped red rashes that may be flat or slightly raised, scaly, patchy,
swollen or blistering. Allergic reaction to drugs, food, and other
environmental elements can also appear as red rashes.
Atopic dermatitis can cause
red skin spots on areas such as the elbows and feet.
- Insect bites: red
spots may be found after an ant, mosquito,
spider, tick, bed bug
or other insect bites into the skin
- Skin rash due to a viral,
bacterial or fungal infection: viral infections like measles,
chicken pox, shingles, bacterial
infections like scarlet fever or fungal infections like ringworm lead
to different forms of red spots.
) is an example of a common
skin infection caused by a virus. It
causes cold sores or herpes on the mouth and genitals. It is possible
to also see sores anywhere on the body. The virus is contagious, even
when sores are not visible. In infected individuals, an outbreak
can be triggered by sunburn. Symptoms include tingling
skin, fever, muscle ache, neck
lymph nodes that are swollen, trouble
and eye infection (herpes keratitis).
Outbreaks last on the face from
2 to 3 weeks. In genital areas the outbreak will last from 2 to 6
A Herpes Virus Outbreak on the
Face Can Cause Red Spots on Skin that are Highly Contagious and That
Can Last from 2 to 3 Weeks
Diagnosis by a Dermatologist can be
confirmed by blood test or skin
of a sore. Treatment includes use of an antiviral
Famciclovir, Acyclovir) and topical to help with symptoms
such as tingling
or skin burning. The virus does not cause complications
in people with normal immune systems. If your immune system has been
weakened by surgery, cancer or a transplanted organ than be sure to see
- Acute inflammation due to rash,
such as heat rash, diaper rash,
or prickly heat is common among
or infection of one or more hair follicles, can
be seen as small red bumps on the skin
- Chronic inflammatory skin
conditions like psoriasis and
- Disorders of the blood vessels
beneath the skin can manifest
as petechiae (small red dots) or patches of red skin (phlebitis)
- Linchen Planus is a
condition that occurs in middle age. While the cause is unknown, it is
believed to be an autoimmune disease. The condition causes red or
red/purple bumps on the skin that can occur anywhere on the body.
On the arm bumps are more red, while on the legs the bumps look dark.
Symptoms include thick rough scaly skin, itch, blisters (rare) and pain
if the red skin bumps are on the genitals. Linchen Planus can also
occur inside the mouth (commonly found by dentists) and cheeks, on the
nails and scalp.
Treatment involves the use of antihistamines for itch, light therapy
retinoic acid to hep clear the skin. Excema topicals are also used such
as Tacrolimus ointment or pimecrolimus cream. Cases usually disappear
in 2 years. It can appear and then disappear over the years. Oral
linchen planus takes longer to disappear and is more difficult to treat.
Linchen Planus causes shiny red
spots on the arms and other areas of the body, with most on the ankles,
lower back and wrists. The cause is unknown.
Other red spots on skin may not be due to inflammation but may
just be due to harmless inborn conditions such as birthmarks or cherry
The diagnosis of red spots on the skin may be done after a
doctor takes a medical history and physical examination. Sometimes
laboratory tests may be needed to establish a diagnosis or to rule out
Some skin conditions manifesting as reddish skin
discolorations have no accompanying symptoms such as birthmarks or
cherry angiomas, except that these may be noted to grow in size in
change in shape.Other skin conditions that are caused by inflammation
may be accompanied by various symptoms like fever, itchiness, scaling,
pus formation, oozing, blistering, pain, and discomfort.
If red spots appear with serious symptoms like difficulty in breathing
and swallowing, these may indicate an acute allergic reaction which may
need immediate medical attention.
Some conditions do not require treatment and will resolve on their
own. However, most of these conditions, especially those which are
accompanied by other symptoms of inflammation may need simple home
remedies. Keeping the skin clean and healthy, and practicing a healthy
lifestyle are important to skin health.
Some of these conditions are just manifestations of an underlying
health condition which needs medical treatment, such as chicken pox.
Most importantly, one should seek immediate treatment if red spots on
skin are accompanied by symptoms of severe allergic reaction, because
this may be life threatening.
References for Red Spots on Skin:
Rodriguez, D. 5
Skin Symptoms and What They Could Mean. EverydayHealth.
Academy of Dermatology
Common skin rashes