close up of red dots on skin
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 5, 2024 ¬∑  3 min read

11 Reasons Why You Have Red Dots On Your Skin

Have you ever noticed red dots on your skin and wondered what could be causing them? Red spots can come up for a variety of reasons, ranging from simple and harmless to more serious conditions. Understanding the potential causes can help you determine if or when it’s time to seek medical attention. Here are 11 reasons why you might have red dots on your skin:

1. Contact Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as atopic eczema, is a type of inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) at foot
Source: Shutterstock

Your red spots may be the result of contact dermatitis, which is triggered by an exposure to irritating substances or allergens. Symptoms include an itchy rash with bumps, swelling, and flaky skin. Learning to identify and avoid the triggering substances is key to managing this condition.1

2. Cherry Angiomas

Angioma. Red birthmark on the skin surface.
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Cherry angiomas are characterized by round, red or purple spots on your skin, which are caused by enlarged blood vessels. Common in adults aged 30 and older, these growths are typically benign but can be removed if they bleed or cause any concerns.

3. Swimmer’s Itch (Cercarial Dermatitis)

Asian teen girl having itchy or irritated skin,dry skin problem,scratching her body in swimming pool,young woman in swimsuit has an allergic reaction to chlorine in water,sensitive skin,health care
Source: Shutterstock

Swimmer’s itch is caused by parasitic infection after being exposed to contaminated water, which then leads to itchy, red rashes (hence the name). Topical steroids and antihistamines can help with the symptoms, and antibiotics are available for persistent cases.

4. Heat Rash (Miliaria)

young woman scratching upper back or neck rash on white background
Source: Shutterstock

A common cause of red dots on your skin is heat rash, medically known as miliaria (not malaria). Heat rash is when sweat glands get blocked, resulting in small, red, prickly bumps on the skin. They’re often itchy or uncomfortable and typically appear in areas where sweat accumulates, such as the armpits, chest, or groin.2

5. Drug Rash

Young woman scratching the itch on her hands w/ redness rash. Cause of itchy skin include dermatitis (eczema), dry skin, burned, food/drugs allergies, insect bites. Health care concept. Close up.
Source: Shutterstock

Drug rashes are an allergic reactions to medications and vary in severity from mild to potentially life-threatening. It’s very important to be able to identify and discontinuing using the offending medication, and medical intervention is needed in severe cases.

6. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Close up dermatitis on man hand, allergic rash dermatitis eczema skin of a patient. Atopic dermatitis symptom skin detail texture, Fungus of skin. The concept of dermatology.
Source: Shutterstock

Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, presents as red, itchy rashes, and often seen in children under five years old. Topical steroids, antihistamines, and moisturizers are standard treatments, all of which focus on minimizing flare-ups.

7. Pityriasis Rosea

One person with Pityriasis rosea disease on the chest and neck on an isolated background
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Pityriasis rosea, a harmless rash common in adolescents and young adults, starts with a larger red dots on your skin followed by smaller, scaly patches. While often resolving on its own, treatment may include antihistamines or antiviral drugs to alleviate symptoms and expedite the process.

8. Blood Spots (Purpura)

Senile purpura on an arm of an Asian elderly woman.
Source: Shutterstock

Blood spots, AKA purpura, occur when small blood vessels burst under your skin, resulting in red or purple patches. While they aren’t always an indicator of a more serious condition, if it’s widespread there may be underlying issues that require a medical evaluation.

9. Ringworm (Tinea Corporis)

Closeup of ringworm infection or Tinea corporis on skin isolated on white background, Dermatophytosis on skin isolated
Source: Shutterstock

Ringworm, a fungal infection, manifests as red, circular rashes with raised edges (like a ring!). Highly contagious and super popular with the cool kids these days, it can spread via skin-to-skin contact or by touching contaminated objects. Antifungal treatments are usually effective in clearing it up.

10. Psoriasis

cute psoriasis on the knees ,body ,elbows is an autoimmune incurable dermatological skin disease. Large red, inflamed, flaky rash on the knees. Joints affected by psoriatic arthritis.
Source: Shutterstock

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that leads to, you guessed it, red dots on your skin as well as plaques, often found on the elbows and knees. Psoriasis can be triggered by stress, infections, or environmental factors. So chill out and find somewhere calm to spend your time.

11. Lichen Planus

A case of lichen planus in a woman.
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Lichen planus causes flat, itchy, purple spots on various parts of the body. This one is a little more interesting because the cause isn’t well understood, but there are treatment options available for it.

Bottom Line

Multiple itchy mosquito or insect bite wheals; red spots on the forearm of Southeast Asian, Chinese adult man.
Source: Shutterstock

While some red dots on your skin may resolve on their own or with simple remedies, others can and should require medical attention. Make sure you monitor the appearance of the spots and seek medical advice if you notice any concerning symptoms like a fever, swelling, or any difficulty breathing. Remember, your skin is a reflection of your overall health, and understanding its changes can help you stay informed and proactive in your overall well-being.

Sources

  1. 13 Causes of Red Spots on Skin.” Very Well Health. Cristina Mutchler. October 21, 2023
  2. What can cause red dots to appear on the skin?Medical News Today. Jamie Eske. September 10, 2023.

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.