Pictures, Causes and Treatment for Spots on Skin


Identifying the reason for spots on skin can be difficult since there are at least 61 conditions, diseases, viruses, bacteria and infections that can result in skin spots. Clues are provided by location and appearance such as color, shape and if the area is raised.  

Descriptions and skin spot pictures are provided below for problems such as white skin spots, red skin spots and many other common conditions.

The guiding principle at all times is to call your doctor if you do not know where the spots came from and if they do not go away within three or so days. If you’re not sure about any curious spots, discoloration or other related symptoms, don’t wait until the problem
gets worse, particularly if the any skin growth changes in size, color or starts to bleed.

There are well over 61 causes for spots on skin, which you may find overwhelming. We are going to list some of the more common causes, instead of all 61 causes, largely because many of them are the exception, rather than the rule.

Usually, the doctor only needs to see how your skin looks. However, there are a number of conditions that also “look alike” and they may want to do a skin biopsy or skin bacterial culture. Your doctor may want to conduct microscopic skin and fungal tests, depending on what disease s/he feels you may have. Skin biopsies will help rule out other possible conditions when the doctor is trying to provide you with a diagnosis.

There are numerous treatments for spots on skin. While many of these treatments do mention conventional medicines, you may wish to check out natural remedies; easily found on the Internet. As always, use caution when you read about alternative treatments and therapies.

Causes by Color

A skin spots color and location can often indicate the type of skin condition.  Here are some common skin conditions and their related skin spot color:

Spots on skin caused by raised small lesions:

Color Possible Causes
Dull Red Psoriasis (rarely on face, often seen on nails)
Pinkish Yellow Pityriasis Rosea (rarely on face)
Seborrheic Dermatitis (appears greasy, commonly on face)
Reddish Brown Tinea Versicolor (occasionally on face)
Violaceous (violet) Lichen Planus (rarely on face and nails)
Pink or Red Hemangiomas

Spots on skin caused by benign tumors and change in pigmentation by color

Color Possible Causes
Pink or Red Acne
Herpes Simplex: viral infection

Red Skin Spots Caused by Herpes Virus
Source: AAD

Skin Allergy
or dark spots
Seborrheic Keratoses (horny growth)

Picture of Seborrhoeic Keratoses (not harmful)

Nevi (birthmarks and moles)

Picture of a Harmless Mole

Characteristics of harmless moles are:

  • Size is from 1mm to 10mmM
  • Uniform shape
  • Even coloration
  • May or may not be raised
  • Risk of skin cancer rises with the number of freckles or moles on a person
  • Some have uneven borders
  • Can have several colors such as black and brown
  • Seek treatment if moles change in appearance

Lentigines (also called age spots or liver spots)

Age Spots are not a health risk, are flat, and occur as the result of cumulative exposure to the sun
Source: The Meisenheimer Clinic

Tannish Yellow Xanthomata : tumor made up of lipid cells
Xanthelasma: skin gorwth that appears on the eyelids comprised of lipits or fitty skin
Keloids: skin overgrowth tthat occurs after injury
Dark blue or tan Seborrheic Keratoses
Blue Nevi
Sun Spots
Melanoma (skin cancer)
Riehl melanoisis (pigment on face and neck)
Erythromelanosis follicarlis

White Spots on Skin

A common complaint is the appearance of white spots on skin.  Potential causes include:

  • Vitiglio: Skin condition where the skin loses pigment or color.
  • Fungus (e.g; tinea versicolor)- A fungal infection can cause white spots on areas such as the back and chest.  An athletes foot or jock itch cream could be of some help.  Fungus can also be contracted from tanning beds.
  • Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (IGH): the result of sun exposure
  • Skin damage from the sun
  • Hereditary condition
  • Pityriasis Alba
  • Post inflammatory hypopigmentation: caused when a previous skin condition heals, leaving behind white skin spots or marks.

Skin Spots on the Face

Most causes of spots on face are harmless. They can be a variety of colors including white, red, black or brown. Common causes include cumulative sun exposure, acne, and skin tags.

Keratoacanthoma (hyperkeratosis) is a lesion that grows rapidly, usually on areas exposed to the sun. Lesions are shaped like a dome and are usually red to tan/brown. Treatment is with surgical. removal. Can also be treated with topicals. It can destroy skin tissue in areas where the tumor grows. The condition is considered to be related to squamous cell carcinoma, although a biopsy is needed to determine if the condition is cancerous in nature.

Hyperkeratosis or Keratoacanthoma goes through multiple stages of growth. Because of this, treatment is early in the tumors evolution.

Any face lesions should be differentiated from cancerous conditions such as basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of cancer in people. The condition primarily occurs in men (but can occur in women) over age 40. It is very rare in people that have black or brown skin. Skin tumors are slow growing and can cause bleeding.

Treatment involves surgical removal, electrodesiccation, and cryosurgery.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of cancer in people. The small size shown is indicative of the early stages of the condition.

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Here's a list of the most common conditions, causes and treatment options.  Conventional treatment options and homeopathic alternatives are listed where available.  If you don't see improvement after trying non-prescription options be sure to see a Doctor, particularly if you see changes in size, shape and color.

Spots on Skin Conditions
Cause Symptoms Treatment
Acne Inflamed skin sebaceous glands Back, face or chest, shoulders, neck dotted with small, pus-filled pimple-like bumps, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or sore, red bumps.

acne picture
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
Over the counter (OTC) medications such as  benzoyl peroxide and/or natural acne treatments to start. If this doesn’t work, see your doctor. Wash using mild soap regularly. May need prescription medicines.
Actinic keratoses  Prolonged sun exposure Tan, gray or pink patches/bumps on the backs of your hands, your face or scalp.

actinic keratosis picture
Actinic Keratosis is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun.
Source: Orlando Skin Doc
See your doctor, as this condition may lead to skin cancer. Your doctor will choose the most appropriate treatment
Allergic contact dermatitis Occurs when skin comes in contact with an irritant or a substance that causes an allergic reaction itchy red rash in any location on your body, with blisters beginning to form after coming into contact with something that your skin is allergic to.

contact dermatitis
Source: Principles of  Pediatric Dermatology
keep area clean with soap and water. Symptoms should vanish within a week. If not and to relieve itching, use calamine lotion, natural remedies or hydro-cortisone cream. See doctor if rash covers whole body, you have blisters or have trouble breathing and have swelling or a fever
Allergic purpura Blood diseases that cause bleeding under the skin Small red dots in various locations on your skin, or larger, almost bruise-like areas that came up after taking medication

purpura picture
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
See doctor immediately. Discontinue medication
Allergy reaction Sensitivity to substances such as food, medications and environmental irritants Flat, raised or irregular raised sores that come up after taking a medication or in response to something in the environment

penicillin allergy skin
Penicillin Skin Allergy Reaction
Source: CDC
Antihistamine for itching and rash. If you have difficulty breathing, red and itchy bumps on your skin, dizziness or nausea, go to the ER
Boil or carbuncle Pull filled skin inflammation.  A carbuncle is a collection of boils Red, angry looking sores on any location of your body. More than one boil is a carbuncle, caused by infection under the skin

carbuncle picture
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
Warm compresses and homeopathic remedies such as Boil-Rx. Antibiotic ointments if required. If boils don’t head out, call the doctor.
Bullous Pemphigoid Autoimmune disease in older people Blisters on the surface of the skin

bullous pemphigold
Bullous Pemphigoid on Hand
Source: Northwestern University
Topical corticosteroids
Cellulites Inflamed skin tissue or inflammation of the connective tissue Very tender, flushed red and swollen areas of skin around a cut or scrape

cellulitis picture
Cellulites Picture
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
Clean area with soap/water, apply antibiotic ointment. If pain and redness spreads, call doctor
Chickenpox Varicella-zoster virus Cough, fever, sore throat, fatigue, many blisters on chest, face, back and neck that spread downward

chicken pox picture
Chicken Pox Picture on Child
Source: CDC/Dr. John Noble, Jr.
Supportive care with acetaminophen, anti-itching creams, cool compresses, cold medications and baths
Cradle cap Flaking of the scalp in babies Typical with children, and the scalp is dry, scaly, itchy, greasy and sometimes yellowish

cradle cap
Cradle Cap Picture
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
Gently scrub scales to remove them. Hydrocortisone cream. or a natural remedy such as Cradle Clear. See your doctor if the rash doesn't improve
Dermatitis herpetiformis Gluten sensitivity Insanely itching red rash that breaks out in bumps and blisters. Typically on buttocks, knees and elbows.

dermatitis herpetiformis
Dermatitis Herpetiformis in 4 yr. old child
Source: CDC
Antibiotics may be used to control symptoms. Don’t eat foods that contain gluten.
Erythema multiforme Caused by medications such as Penicillin, aspirin and some drugs used for epilepsy A blotchy, patchy, red rash, with sores or hives that look like a target

erythema multiforme
Source: ADPE
Common rash caused by strep, viral infections and reactions to medicines. See your doctor for the treatment of choice
Erythema nodosum Caused by several diseases such as tuberculosis, fungal infections in the lungs, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), leprosy.. Can also be caused by medications such as birth control pills, penicillin and sulfonamides. Quite sizable, red lumps that seem to bruise and are very tender to the touch. Occurs mainly on the shins, but can also appear on the face and arms.

erythema nodosum
Lesions from Erythema nodosum on back due to hypersensitivity to Coccidioides immitis, a type of fungus that causes Valley Fever, desert rheumatism, Posada's disease or San Joaquin Valley Fever.
Source: CDC/Dr. Lucille K. Georg
Not considered serious and usually goes away on its own. See doctor to rule out other symptoms
Fifth disease Parvovirus Starts with a fever and then a bright red rash develops, covering the cheeks

fifth disease
Parvovirus Symptoms on Child's Face
Source: ADES
Supportive therapy such as cold medicines. See doctor if rash spread or you are pregnant. Treatment of choice prescribed by doctor based on symptoms
Folliculitis Bacterial or fungal infection at the base of one or more hair follicles. A boil-like infection that appears around hair shafts or pores.

folliculits picture
Folliculitis on Man's Scalp
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
typically heals on its own. Keep area clean. Antibiotic ointments if needed. If worsens, see doctor
Hidradenitis suppurativa Sweat gland infection Swollen, red and tender lumps/bumps in the armpits, groin or other areas on your body where hair grows get to the doctor as soon as possible. Avoid deodorants
Hives Skin allergy to common foods such as nuts, eggs, wheat, milk, berries, vaccines, bees, insect bites Small, raised bumps, spots on skin are usually itchy, that show up on your face or body after coming into contact with an allergen, infection or taking a medication. Some nervous people get hives.

Hives (also called urticaria) affect people of all ages. They are often accompanied by itch. Allergy is a common cause.
Source The Meisenheimer Clinic

antihistamine and cool compresses. If the hives don't go away or you have swelling around the lips or can’t breathe, see your doctor or go to the ER right away
Impetigo Bacterial skin infection caused by staph or strep germs. Commonly seen in children. Tan color spots on skin or sores near lips and/or nose
Natural homeopathic topicals, Antibiotic cream and ointment and oral antibiotic. Very contagious. Wash hands frequently.
Insect bites Fleas, mites, bed bugs, chiggers, ticks, spiders, lice Random red and itchy bumps on your skin in any location

bed bug bites
Bed Bug Bites on Arm can appear in clusters of spots on skin or individual bites.
Source: Bed Bugs Handbook

mosquito bites
Mosquito Bites on Leg
Source: Bed Bugs Handbook

flea bites
Picture Flea Bites on Leg
Source: Bed Bugs Handbook

chigger bites
Chigger Bites Picture
Source: Texas A&M
Antihistamine, ice for swelling and itching. If symptoms get worse call your doctor. If you can’t breathe, have red and itchy bumps on your skin, dizziness or nausea, go to the ER
Irritant contact dermatitis Skin exposure to chemicals Scaly, red rash that starts after coming into contact with detergents, clothing, perfume, lotions, jewelry etc. Usually seen on arms and hands. Don’t touch and avoid what you feel caused the problem. Try natural remedies or hydrocortisone cream.
 Jock itch (Tinea cruris) Fungus Affects the groin area in men. Presents as a red itchy rash

jock itch picture
Picture of Jock Itch
Over-the-counter antifungal cream, or jock itch remedies..
Lupus erythematosus Disease of the connective tissues Achy joints and a red, butterfly shaped rash on the forehead and cheeks Treatment depends on symptoms. Doctor will select appropriate regime
Measles Virus Fever, sore throat, rashy red bumps or face and forehead, which spread downward to cover the rest of your body.

measles skin spots
Spots on skin caused by the measles virus (Morbillivirus or Rubeola).
Source: CDC/Brian W.J. Mahy BSC, PhD
Mostly supportive care is needed. Keep child away from others and particularly pregnant women. Discuss options with doctor.
Molluscum Contagiosum

Skin Infection due to virus
Molluscum Contagiosum is spread via a virus. it is common in children, athletes and adults that are sexually active.

molluscum contagiosum
In people with normal immune systems, the problem can go away on its own in months or years. Laser treatment and other Dermatologist administered approaches are available. There is also a natural tpical that treats the condition formulated by Naturasil.
Pityriasis rosea Unknown Starts with scaly, red and itchy solo spot, but spreads within days to other patches of red or tan col.ored rash on your chest, back  and abdomen

pityriasis rosea
Source: ADES
This skin disease typically doesn’t respond to treatments, and the rash may go away on its own in a few weeks. Try calamine lotion and antihistamines for itching/redness.
Psoriasis Unknown, possibly the immune system Red, very irritated and bumpy skin with a white scaly rash, usually on the knees and elbows and fingers.  Can also appear on back of head and at the top of anus.

psoriasis picture
Source: Principles of Pediatric Dermatology
Ointments, homeopathic remedies such as Skin Dr., oral medications and/or light therapy
Ringworm Skin fungus Rings of itchy, red skin anywhere on your body

ringworm skin rash
Rinworm fungal rash on child
Source: Principles of  Pediatric Dermatology
Antifungal cream and/or natural remedies.
Rocky mountain spotted fever Bacterial infection from ticks Red rash started on legs and arms, spread to soles of feet and palms of hand and comes with a headache and fever.

rocky mountain fever skin spots
Spots on skin from Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  The condition is caused by a bacteria spread by ticks (Rickettsia rickettsiii)
Source: CDC
Antibiotic of choice of doctor i.e. tetracycline or doxycycline
Rosacea Unknown Cheeks, chin, forehead and nose appear flushed

Source: ADES
No treatment usually needed, unless it is a bad rash. Homeopathic remedies such as RosaRex may  help to reduce redness. Doctor will prescribe antibiotics if required 
Scabies Mites Zigzag shaped welts, red, extremely itchy, sores on just about any location of your body.

scabies picture
Source: Dermisil
You will need prescription medication or natural remedies. Wash clothing and bed coverings in the hottest water possible
Seborrheic dematitis Unknown, possibly a yeast infect ion that originates in hair follicles Itchy, red, scaly and oily rash around your nose, at the edge of your scalp or in your eyebrows. Can also appear between the breasts.

seborrheic dermatitis
Man with Seborrheic dematitis that was originally mis-diagnosed as syphilis
Source: CDC/Susan Linksley
Hydrocortisone cream/selenium sulfide shampoo or natural remedies. See your doctor if the symptoms spread
Shingles Reactivated chicken pox virus. Could be triggerred by stress or a depressed immune sytem Painful red blisters that may crust over

Spots on skin caused by Shingles
Source: Dermisil
Cool compresses. Supportive care with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Natural remedies that contain plant extracts or  L-Lysine.
Syphilis Bacteria called a spirochete One of the few non-itchy rashes. Red and spreads to the genitals, rectal areas,  the soles of your feet and/or the palms or your hands.  Skin rash can spread to other areas.  Other syphillis symptoms that may occur include fever, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle ache and fatigue.

syphilis feet spots
Spots on skin covering the soles of the feet due to a secondary Syphilis infection. Rash can appear as the condition is healing.
Source: CDC
See doctor immediately. Doctor will prescribe treatment needed which may include penicillin or other antibiotics. 
Tinea Barbae (Barbers Itch or Face Ringworm) Fungus Redness and bumps around the edges of the beard or on face.

tinea barbae
Spots on skin caused by the ringworm fungus, also referred to as Tinea Barbae or Barber's Itch.
Source: CDC
Can heal on it's own.
Tinea Versicolor (white spots on skin) Fungal skin infection Discolored skin patches that may range from light to dark. Often the cause for white skin spots.

tinea versicolor
Homeopathic topical and soap, Selenium sulfide or antifungal cream.
Vitiligo Inherited skin condition Skin patches that have lost color or pigmentation.  Skin patches appear as white skin spots or pale.  The condition is not contagious.

vitiligo skin spot
Loss of pigmentation on the skin is called Vitiligo.  
Source: Orlando Skin Dog
No treatment is needed  In rare cases could be due to an underlying disease such as diabetes or thyroid disease.. Laser treatments are available but may or may not be successful. 

If you see your spots on skin condition worsening over time, be sure to see a Doctor who can best identify you specific condition.

Skin Cancer Spots

Skin Cancer Pictures

Skin Cancer Photos of Melanoma

Whenever you see changes on the skin, or spots that look like these pictures, see a Doctor. When diagnosed early, most types of skin cancer can be easily treated.

Examples of Skin Cancer: Melanoma and Carcinoma

From Left to Right: Nodular Melanoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Types of Cancerous Skin Spots

Nodular melanoma

  • Quick growth
  • Different appearance than melanoma. Even color and raised from skin
  • Color ranges from black, brown, pink or red.
  • Shaped like a dome
  • Firm when touched
  • Over time can crust and bleed

Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Common type of skin cancer, not as dangerous as other forms
  • Colors range from pearly, pale or red
  • Appearance can be scaly, dry or a bump/lump
  • May not heal or can ulcerate
  • Slow growth, particularly in sun exposed areas.

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Can easily bleed
  • Thick red scaly spot, can ulcerate or crust
  • Growth occurs over months, often on sun exposed areas
  • Higher incidence in people over 50 years of age




The Johns Hopkins Complete Home Guide to Symptoms and Remedies

Isadore Rosenfeld, MD


Centers for Disease Control

Date Published: