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  5. What Causes Red Spots On Skin & How To Treat Them
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How often have you spotted red spots on your skin? Well, don’t be alarmed if they occur again. The wisest thing to do is pay a visit to your doctor. This is because there can be many reasons behind them - from allergic reactions to other skin conditions. The underlying cause is hard to determine without medical examination.

In this article, we list out all the possible causes of red spots and their treatments for your knowledge.


"Red spots that appear on your skin can be caused by many different factors, including an infection, medical condition, skin irritation, or allergy. Some red spots go away on their own, but others may need treatment or medication to resolve them fully”.

Dr. Harish Koutam, (MBBS, MD - Dermatology, Venereology & Leprosy), Chief Dermatologist, SkinKraft

Causes Of Red Spots On Skin

Appearance of red spots on your skin can be alarming. There could be many reasons behind the red spots on your skin. In most cases, the underlying causes are hard to determine.

According to SkinKraft Laboratories’ chief dermatologist, Dr. Harish Koutam, “Red spots that appear on your skin can be caused by many different factors, including an infection, medical condition, skin irritation, or allergy. Some red spots go away on their own, but others may need treatment or medication to resolve them fully. Red spots can also occur due to contact dermatitis, purpura, petechia, cherry angiomas, drug rash, lichen planus, etc.”

To identify the accurate reason, you may need to consult a doctor. We are listing a few common factors that lead to red spots on your skin. Take a look!

1. Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is an inflammatory condition that is often compared to a drooping tree because of how it looks. It usually shows up as a large, oval patch on your skin at first which is later accompanied by smaller red spots on the chest, torso, back and abdomen. The spots can be itchy or scaly.

Researchers aren't sure about the exact cause of this skin condition. However, some evidence indicates its link to a viral infection. As per a study on pityriasis alba by National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), this condition can affect any age group. However, it usually develops in people between the ages 10-35.


  • Headache, nausea and fatigue before the patch appears
  • Small red spots across your back, chest or abdomen
  • Itchy rash
  • Scaly red spots, often with a heightened border


Pityriasis rosea usually goes away on its own within 8-10 weeks. To speed up the healing process and relieve you of symptoms, your dermatologist may prescribe over-the-counter topical treatments like calamine lotion or zinc oxide. Antihistamines may also be recommended to reduce redness and itchiness. Products containing oatmeal may also help relieve your skin of symptoms (1). You can take lukewarm showers too to get relief.

In some instances, your doctor may recommend taking prescription drugs such as corticosteroids to reduce itching and swelling, or antiviral medication to manage the symptoms. You may also be asked to get some natural or artificial sunlight as they are said to reduce the duration of the rashes. However, this might have side effects too.

2. Acne

Acne can be one of the major causes of the appearance of red spots on your skin. It usually affects the face, back, neck, chest and pubic area.

Acne occurs when tiny pores on your skin get clogged by dirt and bacteria. This may result in the appearance of tiny red bumps on the surface of your skin. These bumps may or may not have a head and are usually filled with pus.


  • Tiny, red bumps on face, neck, back or chest
  • Painful, red bumps/cysts
  • Pimple-like red spots
  • Usually have a white head


Treatment typically depends on the severity and type of acne. If you have a breakout every month, your doctor may recommend topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids or salicylic acid (2) (3). In case of severe cystic acne, your dermatologist may recommend a topical treatment in combination with oral medication like isotretinoin or antibiotics.

Laser treatment is another most popular method to remove red marks left behind by acne (4). It involves the removal of the topmost layer of your skin, reducing the appearance of these marks. This process uses focused light therapy and is chemical-free.

Chemical peeling is a process involving the removal of dead skin cells and the topmost layer of your skin.(5) Chemical peels work as exfoliators and come in three different types - superficial, medium and deep peels. Depending on the severity of your marks, your dermatologist may recommend chemical peeling as a treatment option (6).

3. Heat Rash

Just like acne, heat rashes (7) occur when the pores in your skin get clogged with sweat, especially after constant sun exposure in highly humid weather. While traveling your skin’s surface, sweat can sometimes get blocked, causing tiny red bumps to appear (8). Intense exercise, hard work or any physical activity that causes you to sweat heavily can lead to heat rash. It may also happen to those who are confined to bed for long periods, especially if they have a fever.

Heat rashes look like reddened skin with tiny blisters and most commonly show up in areas where you sweat the most and the ones where your skin is likely to rub against something. These areas include your pubic area, armpits, neckline and other areas prone to sweat.


  • Red bumps on surface of skin
  • Itchy and painful bumps
  • Tends to reduce when skin cools down


Heat rashes usually disappear when your body cools down. You need to make sure that the affected area is cool, dry, and free of irritation. Take cool baths or oatmeal baths, apply cold compresses, wear loose clothes, and avoid thick moisturizers.

Such rashes are usually not harmful and resolve on their own. However, neglecting them may lead to secondary infection. To soothe irritated skin, your doctor may recommend for you to use calamine lotion or any other topical cream. In case you notice any signs of infection along with the rashes or pus oozing from it, consult your doctor immediately.

4. Allergies

Allergic reactions occur due to immune system responses (9). This happens when your body or skin comes into contact with something that it considers foreign. Allergic skin reactions can be triggered by airborne allergens, certain foods like eggs, peanuts, insect bites, medicines particularly penicillin, etc.

If you have sensitive skin, you are likely to spot red rashes on your skin every now and then. Allergic reactions can also cause red patches or red spots to develop on your skin’s surface.


  • Red patches on skin
  • Itchy and painful patches or spots
  • Occurs when in contact with a substance
  • Settles down within a few days


Your doctor may recommend a topical cream or lotion to soothe symptoms of an allergic reaction like itchy skin.

Also, try to avoid foods or medicines that are likely to trigger allergic reactions on your skin.

SkinKraft Tip:

If you have severe allergies, you are at high risk of anaphylaxis, a life threatening medical emergency. Avoid certain foods like eggs, milk, peanuts, medications and insect stings as they are the most common triggers of anaphylaxis.

5. Drug Rash

Drug rashes look like raised red bumps, a flat red rash, or scaly skin. Certain medication can be the culprit behind red rashes or spots on your skin. Any drug/medication can cause rashes. However, the most common ones occur due to the intake of antibiotics or anti-seizure drugs (10)

Drug rashes can happen to people of all ages and of both genders. Drug rashes can lead to a condition called DRESS. This condition can cause high fever, flu-like symptoms, burning of the skin and organ damage. DRESS requires immediate medical attention.


  • Blisters
  • Red bumps
  • Itching
  • Peeling skin
  • Painful bumps


These rashes tend to fade away when you discontinue taking the medication that caused them. Antihistamines may be recommended to reduce inflammation and other symptoms.

6. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin reacts to something it comes into contact with (11). This is a dry skin condition. Harsh skincare products usually cause contact dermatitis, if you have extremely dry skin. A study by the Indian Journal of Dermatology states that an estimated 15%–20% of the general population suffers from contact allergy.


  • Red spots
  • Hives
  • Swelling of skin
  • Itchy and painful bumps/rashes
  • Scaly patches of skin


Anti-itch creams are used to relieve contact dermatitis symptoms (12). Wet compresses are also an option to help reduce itchiness.


Scratching the affected area may lead to an itch-scratch cycle.

7. Diaper Rash

As the name suggests, a diaper rash occurs around the pubic or ‘diaper-covered’ area of the body. Diaper rashes are usually caused due to bacterial or yeast infections (13). Contact dermatitis can also contribute to the development of rashes around this area.

This condition can affect anyone wearing diapers including adults, babies, and toddlers. It looks like a pink-to-red colored rash, or peeling or irritated looking skin.


  • Red tender-looking skin
  • Occurs on buttocks, thighs and genitals


Less is more in this case. Keep the rash away from fragrances and harsh skincare products. Cleansing the rash with lukewarm water followed by the application of petroleum jelly is recommended.

8. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. It usually affects adults. However, some children can be victims too. Researchers are not sure what might be the exact causes of psoriasis, but they speculate a combination of genetics and environmental factors to be causing the condition.

When the body triggers immune system responses to fight bacteria and other foreign substances, it may sometimes overreact, causing the development of red spots and bumps on the skin of your elbows, knees, scalp, etc. These are accompanied by scaly, itchy and painful red patches of skin (13) (14).


  • Scaly, itchy patches on the body
  • Causes itching and burning


Psoriasis can be of different types and each of them appears distinct. Your doctor can help diagnose it by its appearance and treat it accordingly. In rare cases, your doctor may conduct a skin biopsy. Various topical and oral treatments are available to relieve symptoms. Topical medications include topical corticosteroids, anthralin, topical retinoids, salicylic acid and moisturizers(15).

Phototherapy is also used in some cases to treat psoriasis. In some cases oatmeal baths and cold compresses can be helpful too.

9. Lichen Planus

Researchers have little or no evidence as to what causes lichen planus. This condition is the development of raised, red or pink bumps, usually around a wound (16). Red, scaly spots or rashes may appear in your mouth, on your wrists, ankles, and back. Your skin gets rough and scaly where the patches continue to reappear. These patches can be itchy.

Did You Know?

Lichen planus typically occurs in people under the age bracket of 30-60 years. However, it can affect younger individuals and older people as well.


  • Red, scaly bumps or spots
  • Painful or itchy rashes with sharp borders
  • Ulcers on the skin
  • Spots may darken in color


The condition isn't contagious, but can't be cured. It usually clears up by itself within several months unless it's chronic. Your doctor may recommend antihistamines to reduce symptoms like itching.

Phototherapy with UV light can reduce the symptoms too while steroid creams or ointments can be effective in reducing inflammation and redness. Such creams should be applied to the itchy spots and as soon as the spots change from brown color to gray, you should stop the treatment. Those with severe symptoms can take oral tablets, only under the supervision of the doctor.

Topical corticosteroids can also be used to treat oral lichen planus (17).

10. Swimmer’s Itch

This rash occurs if your body is exposed to parasite-infested water. (18) (19) This usually takes place in stagnant water bodies like ponds and lakes. Oceans can also be infested with parasites at times. When snails get infected with this parasite, they tend to spread it in these water bodies.


  • Red, itchy rashes
  • Red bumps or spots


Antihistamines may be recommended by your doctor to relieve you of symptoms. Lukewarm baths and anti-itch creams may help soothe the rash.

Word of Caution:

Although antihistamines are used to soothe symptoms, they can cause allergic reactions. Talk to your dermatologist before using antihistamines to treat your red spots or rashes. An alternative to using antihistamines is topical application of hydrocortisone cream. These are effective when used in concentrations of 1 percent.

11. Petechiae

These small red spots resemble rashes and primarily occur due to the rupture of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) under your skin. The pinpoint red dots (20) in a cluster can appear on your arms, legs, buttocks, and stomach. They usually don't itch, however, they can spread to other parts of your body, forming large patches. These may occur in scarlet fever, sepsis, leukemia, vitamin C & K deficiency, etc. (21)

In most cases, petechiae caused by bacterial or viral infection starts getting better as soon as the infection starts healing. On the other hand, petechiae caused due to a medication starts showing improvement once you discontinue taking the medicine.

The petechiae treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Your doctor may prescribe you medicines like antibiotics to treat infection, corticosteroids to soothe inflammation, medicines like azathioprine, methotrexate to suppress the immune system. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen too can give you relief from the symptoms.

12. Pimples

Pimples are red spots that develop on your skin, chest, and upper back. They occur when your skin pores are clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. These when mixed with bacteria, cause irritated, inflamed, red spots.

Usually, you can treat mild pimples at home with the help of over-the-counter acne products. However, severity can result in acne vulgaris or cystic acne which needs medical attention to be treated.

Treatment options include topical products, oral antibiotics, corticosteroid injections, and chemical peels, among others.

Pimples on your armpit are also a common occurrence. They appear as red small, painful red dots. Usually, they can be treated with at-home remedies, however, you may consult with your doctor to identify the exact cause and resolve them.

How To Remove Red Spots On Skin With Home Remedies?

There are simple yet effective remedies that you can try at home using natural ingredients to manage red spots on your skin.

1. Coconut Oil

A wonder ingredient in skincare, coconut oil helps to manage multiple skin concerns including red spots. It helps to soothe itchiness, reduce redness and eventually remove red spots on regular use.

You can mix coconut oil with other ingredients to make a face pack. Also, you can apply virgin coconut oil or an organic one to your slightly damp skin and massage it in circular motions for a while till it gets absorbed. Apply this on the affected parts of your skin during the night and wash it off the next morning.

2. Aloe Vera

A natural healer, aloe vera is a great moisturizer too. Aloe vera gel can calm irritated skin and ailments and its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can keep infections at bay. Aloe vera's healing compounds can reduce red spots and make your skin glowing and healthy.

You can simply scoop out the gel from a freshly extracted aloe leaf and massage it on the affected areas of your skin. Leave it for 20 minutes and then rinse with water. You may also use a face mask with freshly extracted gel and cucumber juice to help soothe inflammation and manage redness.

3. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is effective in reducing redness and spots. Thanks to it's bleaching properties. It contains citric acid that works as an astringent and helps maintain your skin’s pH.

You can squeeze a lemon, dip a cotton ball in it and dab it gently on the spots. Leave it to dry before washing it off with cold water. Use a moisturizer afterwards to prevent it from drying out your skin.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can do wonders in healing sunburns, treating acne marks, reducing redness, and soothing itchy and irritated skin. Thanks to the astringent properties.

Take half a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and dilute it with two tablespoons of water. Add a few drops of essential oil of your choice, mix well, and apply it to the red spots. Alternatively, you can also use a cotton pad, dip it in the mixture and apply it to the red spots and leave it for some time to dry. Later, you can wash it off with cool water. You can practice this twice daily.

Do You Get Red Spots On Skin During Pregnancy?

Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) is a condition that leads to itchy patches including small, red dots or bumps on the skin. This condition usually develops in the third trimester. As per a study by the American Academy of Family Physicians, 1 out of 130 to 300 people develop PUPPP. It initially appears as itchy red patches on the stomach and spreads to the arms, legs, and buttocks.

PUPPP is more common in women with first pregnancies (22). It may also be noticed among those with multiple pregnancies. However, it tends to go away after delivery. In most cases, topical corticosteroids, oral antihistamines, and oral prednisone are prescribed to treat this condition.

When To See A Doctor?

To determine the red spots on your skin you may visit your dermatologist who will treat them based on their appearance, severity, your medical history, or any underlying condition. Also, if you notice any of the symptoms associated with the red spots such as fever, swelling, or pus oozing from the rash, consult your doctor immediately.

Wrapping Up

Red spots that appear on your skin are usually harmless, not permanent, and are primarily caused due to infections, allergic reactions, or medical conditions. You can resort to home remedies or apply over-the-counter creams or take medicines to manage the symptoms. However, in case of severity, consult your doctor immediately to get a correct diagnosis and treatment.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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