One or more red spots have appeared on your skin and you aren’t sure if it’s cause for alarm. You may ask yourself if melanoma (skin cancer) is the cause of the red spots on your skin, or if it’s just a blemish that will fade eventually.
Red spots on skin can appear in many different ways. We’ll examine some of the different types of red spots that can appear on your skin and what they could mean, which ones mean you need to see a doctor about, and which can be cleared up quickly and easily, often with over-the-counter remedies from your drug store.
Some red spots on skin are the size of a dot from dabbing a pen on a piece of paper and can be easily spotted, while others may require closer examination, even requiring you to use a magnifying glass. In addition, red spots on skin may not always be perfectly circular, instead having odd shapes, or might be pink instead of red. These pink or red spots on skin are called “cherry angiomas” and are a harmless part of aging caused by blood vessels near the surface. Angiomas can either be flat or take on a slightly raised appearance.
Causes of Red Dot on Skin
Other benign causes of red spots on skin include leukocyclastic vasculitis, which may sound like a horrible disease, but it is in fact a harmless inflammation of the capillaries that’s usually caused by infections, medications, or autoimmune processes.
Red spots on skin can also be caused by something as simple as scratching. Scratching skin can cause extravasations, where damage to the capillaries causes blood to leak into the skin, creating red spots on skin. In fact, you may be causing extravasations without realizing it. Certain areas of skin, particularly around the eye, may be especially susceptible to extravasations, as are the hands if you participate in sports where they’re repeatedly hitting a ball hard, such as volleyball.
Red spots on skin may also be nothing more than a simple reaction to a bug bite, as bites from mosquitoes, chiggers, and bed bugs can cause red, itchy spots to appear on skin. The itch and swelling of bug bites can be treated with a lotion, such as calamine.
And like it or not, but red spots on skin are one of the signs of aging. If you have a fair complexion and you’re under 40, you may have noticed that you get red spots on your skin frequently. Again, this is nothing to be concerned about; they may simply be superficial blood vessels that haven’t been reabsorbed into the skin. Typically, these red spots on skin will fade after several days, taking on an orange tinge as they do. If the red spots persist, contact your doctor or a dermatologist.
But while red spots on skin may usually be no cause for concern, there are several diseases and medical conditions can cause them, such as scarlet fever; measles; rubella, a maculopapular rash; and Schamberg’s disease, a benign disorder that presents as cayenne pepper-like dots on the lower of legs of people as they age. Red spots on skin are also caused by a reaction to antibiotics, as well as by reactions to chemotherapy.
Other causes of red spots on skin may include psoriasis or atopic dermatitis. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery or red patches of skin. This skin condition can be treated easily. Atopic dermatitis, better known as eczema, is a skin condition that causes the skin to react abnormally when exposed to allergens, irritants, and certain foods, resulting in itchy, red, flaky skin. Like psoriasis, it is a chronic condition, but with the right medication, it can be kept under control.
Kerotosis pilaris is another skin condition that causes red spots on skin. It typically shows up as raised, red, and often itchy bumps on the skin with a sandpaper-like texture that typically appear on the upper arms or thighs.
If you find that red spots on skin only appear after eating certain foods or being exposed to certain conditions, you may just have undiagnosed allergies. Book an appointment with your doctor and undergo testing; if you do have allergies, your doctor will likely recommend that you start taking medication. There are many over-the-counter allergy medications available as well.
If you are allergic to certain foods or environmental conditions, the symptoms may appear as raised, itchy red spots on skin called hives. If you find you break out in hives after eating certain foods or being in certain conditions, such as a dusty room, you may simply be having an allergic reaction. Your doctor will likely recommend anti-allergy medications, or you can simply purchase the medication yourself.
As the above causes show, red spots on skin are usually nothing to be concerned about and can often be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, they may also be a sign of more serious conditions. One major illness that red spots on skin are a possible symptom of is leukemia, a cancer of the blood. Tiny red or purple spots known as petechia are associated with leukemia and usually appear on the chest, back, face, or arms. Petechia are a sign of the blood’s failure to clot; though some patients may just assume that it’s a rash, they are actually due to broken blood capillaries caused by a low platelet count.
Another serious condition that red spots on skin are a symptom of is melanoma, or skin cancer. While melanoma typically presents itself as brown, purple, or black blotches, there have been cases where it has appeared as raised red spots on skin. If you have a red spots on your skin that aren’t going away, even after trying traditional treatments, contact your doctor or a dermatologist immediately. If caught early, skin cancer can be treated effectively.