Red Spots on Skin and What You Can Do About Them

Red spots on skin are one of the most common skin problems. Once you notice the appearance of one spot or several, the questions that follow are: what is it and what can you do about it? Most of the time, these spots are harmless. However, since nearly every type of skin disease begins with red spots, it is a good idea to know what to look for.

The causes of red spots on skin can be due to one of several causes. Some can be treated, some cannot. The following list will help you determine what the red spots are, and what treatment or medicines may be effective.


What Are Angiomas?

Angiomas are groups of tissues filled with blood vessels that occur just under the skin. Although we do not know the cause for most angiomas, we do know that they are harmless, they are not contagious, and they can occur anywhere on the body. Two of the most common types of angiomas are cherry angiomas are spider angiomas.

Cherry Angiomas get their name from their bright, cherry-red or purplish color. Also called Campbell de Morgan, or senile spots, these angiomas are harmless, painless, and usually occur more frequently as you get older. These overgrowths of blood vessels are usually smooth and are about the size of a pinhead. Typically, they will appear on the trunk, although they may pop up on the neck, face, scalp, arms or legs. Most are very small, but can grow to as much as 1/4 inch across. Most of the time, these angiomas occur in healthy people. Although an exact cause is not known, it is believed that stress may be a contributing factor.

What Do Cherry Angioma Look Like?

Red Spots - Cherry Angioma

What Are the Treatments for Cherry Angioma?

Since these types of lesions are not dangerous, medical treatment is not needed unless there is the danger of irritation or hemorrhage. Some people, however, do choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Health professionals can employ several procedures, including the use of electric needle, laser treatment or even freezing the angioma with liquid nitrogen.

Spider angiomas are an irregular collection of blood vessels that occur just under the skin and are shaped like a spider with legs or in the shape of a spider web.

Spider angiomas can show up at any age and may present as a single angioma or in a group. The most common areas for spider angiomas are the face and the torso, but they can also occur on the ears, hands, or forearms. Estrogen levels play a significant role in the formation of spider angiomas. For this reason, women using hormonal contraception and pregnant women are particularly prone to this type of angioma.

What Do Spider Angiomas Look Like?

Red Spots - Spider Angiomas

What Are the Treatments for Spider Angioma?

Spider angiomas will often resolve themselves and, if they are not causing discomfort, they do not require treatment. If, for cosmetic reasons, you decide to have them removed, laser treatment has proven to be effective in fading the lesions.


What Is Petechiae?

Round red, brown or purple blood spots under the skin that are about the size of a pinpoint are called petechiae. Most petechiae are less than 3 millimeters, or an eighth of an inch in size. Large arrays of these types of red spots are known as purpura. While angiomas are clusters of blood vessels under the surface of the skin, a petechia is a bruised, or bleeding, blood vessel under the skin. Angiomas blanch, or lose color, when you apply pressure while petechiae do not. Petechiae are most often flat to the touch and frequently appear in clusters and may resemble a rash.

Physical trauma is the most common cause of petechiae. When this type of lesion occurs on the face, neck and chest, it is usually as a result of activities that cause prolonged straining such as coughing, crying, weightlifting, vomiting or childbirth.

Certain medicines like penicillin, aspirin, or naproxen can lead to petechiae. Infectious diseases such as fever, strep throat or mononucleosis can also cause these types of spots to appear. Viral, bacterial or fungal diseases may cause petechiae on the skin or on the insides of the eyelids or mouth. A deficiency in Vitamin K is another known cause of petechiae.

What Does Petechiae Look Like?

Red Spots - Petechiae

What Are the Treatments For Petechiae?

While the petechiae itself will fade with time, the underlying cause may be treatable with medications or other types of therapies.


What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an inherited, noncontiguous skin disease that begins as red spots on the skin that join together to become larger plaques of thick, silvery scaled skin. It can affect any age or race and can flare-up, disappear, and reappear after a period of time. It can range from mild to severe and has the potential to negatively impact the quality of life of those who suffer from it because of the appearance of the skin.

What Does Psoriasis Look Like?

Red Spots - Psoriasis

What Are the Treatments For Psoriasis?

While there is no cure for Psoriasis, some treatments may ease the symptoms. These treatments range from topical creams, sprays and lotions to UV light treatments, pills or injections.

Keratosis Pilaris

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a hereditary condition that is aggravated by environmental factors such as cold weather, dry skin and stress. It is characterized by red bumps and a raised texture like that of chicken skin. It may pop up anywhere on the body, but is usually found on the thighs, cheeks, upper arms and back.

What does Keratosis Pilaris look like?

Red Spots - Keratosis Pilaris

How is Keratosis Pilaris treated?

Addressing and alleviating the symptoms is the primary treatment for this type of skin disorder. There are several medications that may be prescribed such as ammonium lactate and urea, topical corticosteroids and topical retinoids. For more severe cases, laser therapy or intense light therapy may prove beneficial in treating the redness but not the rough texture of the skin.

Depending on the cause, red spots on skin can remain small and flat, become bumps, turn into blisters, or spread into a rash. They can be simply superficial or they may be signs of something going on inside your body. Some spots may indicate that you are allergic to something while others may warn of a virus.

It is important to know your skin and watch for any changes. It is always wise to see a doctor or dermatologist if you notice a change in color or growth.