Red spots on the skin have various causes. For example, exposure to irritants can cause dermatitis, fungal infections can cause ringworm, blood vessels can cause spots called purpura, and some autoimmune disorders can cause rashes.
Some spots will go away on their own, but others may require treatment.
This article discusses 13 causes of red spots on the skin, whether it is a cause for concern, and when to seek immediate medical attention.
Different color spots on the skin
Spots may not look the same on different skin tones. For example, acne looks red on fair skin, but looks like a dark spot on darker skin.1 Also, studies have shown that providers find it difficult to identify acne because medical textbooks do not teach about different types of skin when teaching about skin conditions. .2
Heat rash (Milaria)
Red spots on the skin after exposure to the sun are caused by a condition called “heat rash”. Heat rash (miliaria) occurs when the sweat glands under the skin are blocked. It causes small, red, spiky bumps on the skin that are itchy and painful.
Heat rash usually occurs in folds of the skin or in areas where sweat accumulates, such as the armpits, chest, back, arms, and groin.
People who live in hot climates, sweat a lot, or lie down for long periods of time are more likely to develop heat rash.
Heat rash can be treated at home by taking cool baths, cold compresses, and wearing loose clothing to reduce skin temperature. Also, avoid applying thick moisturizing creams that trap heat on the skin. 3
Heat rash usually goes away on its own after a few days. However, if the skin is damaged, it can cause a secondary infection. In severe cases, oral or topical antibiotics may be needed to relieve pain and clear the infection.
Contact your healthcare provider if you develop signs of infection, such as a heat rash, peeling skin, or purulent discharge.
Heat rash, sun rash
Itchy, burning red spots on the skin after going outside can be caused by the sun or heat. While heat rash is caused by high temperature and sweat, sun rash is like a sunburn.5
How to treat heat rash
A red spot on the skin can sometimes be a cherry angioma (or cherry hemangioma), a small growth on the skin that appears as a round red or pink spot made up of blood vessels. The ball may be raised or flat. A growth may be mistaken for a tumor, but it is not cancer.
Cherry angiomas are common in adults 30 years of age or older. They usually appear on the trunk, but they can also develop on the hands, feet, or scalp. Sometimes the growth changes in size and bleeds, but this does not mean that there is a problem.
Cherry angioma is diagnosed by a doctor’s examination. They usually do not require treatment. However, if the appearance of growths bothers you or if they tend to bleed, they can be removed.
Your provider may explain options for removing growths, such as laser or liquid nitrogen. Usually these procedures are not harmful.6
Overview of Cherry Angioma
Red spots on the skin can be caused by contact dermatitis, a common skin condition. It occurs when your skin is irritated or comes in contact with something you’re allergic to.
Contact dermatitis usually presents as an itchy red rash with bumps. It also causes swollen, dry, flaky skin anywhere on the body.