What is Red Spots on Skin: Diseases List, and Symptoms

Dr. Amit Guna

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Amit Guna

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

6 min read


If you have occasional red spots on your skin, they may have their roots in multiple health conditions. Find out about those different conditions, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Key Takeaways

  • Red spots on the skin can be caused by a number of health conditions
  • Common causes of red dots on the skin include eczema, insect bite, & psoriasis
  • Skin cancers such as Bowen’s disease and BCC may also lead to red spots

Red spots on the skin can be triggered by a number of health conditions such as eczema, allergy, insect bites, and more. They may appear as small red dots on the skin or red patches on the skin, depending on their underlying causes. 

These causes also determine whether the red spots on the skin will form instantly or if they will take some time to develop. 

Just like the variable size of the red spots on the skin, they can also show up in different places on your body. For example, red spots on the legs, hands, or palms can be symptoms of different health conditions. 

Read on to know more about red spots on the skin as we go into the deep of their causes, treatments, and more.

What Do Red Spots On The Skin Indicate?

Red spots on the skin are not any particular condition but just a symptom of different possible conditions. Its causes vary from minor insect bites to severe diseases such as leukaemia. 

However, it is important to remember that red spots on the skin and red, inflamed skin are not the same. Small red dots on the skin can be a symptom of serious conditions such as skin cancer.

Diseases That Cause Red Spots On The Skin

Here’s a list of diseases that are potential red spots on the skin causes:

Additional Read: White Spots on SkinRed Spots on the Skin

Diseases Causes, Symptoms Of Red Spots On Skin

Keratosis pilaris

Causes and symptoms

In case you have tiny red spots that are similar to goosebumps on your arms and thighs, that can be an indication of keratosis pilaris. 

If you have this condition, the red bumps may itch a little or may not itch at all. Around 40% of adults and 50-80% of adolescents suffer from this condition [1]. 

It is caused when your pores get blocked by keratin, a protein found in your hair, nails, and skin. This condition is often associated with eczema or dry skin.


Though keratosis pilaris doesn’t cause any harm to your health, you can still use prescribed, or over-the-counter (OTC) medicated creams to reduce its symptoms, such as red spots on the skin. 

For effective treatment, it is prudent to look for products with ingredients such as urea, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), and salicylic acid. 

Eczema and allergies

Causes and symptoms

Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a skin condition that leads to red spots on the skin along with inflammation. Though this condition mostly gets visible in childhood, you may get eczema at any age. 

The exact cause of eczema is not clear; certain triggers can lead to this condition. Here’s a look at them:

  • Drug reaction
  • Allergy from pets
  • Allergic purpura
  • Food allergy
  • Irritant contact dermatitis (for example, diaper rash)
  • Allergic contact dermatitis (for example, allergy to an insect bite or latex)
  • Rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac
  • Hives

Symptoms of eczema include dry and itchy skin and red and scaly rash. You may get these flare-ups on your arms, hands, feet, or skin folds.


If you have eczema, you can reduce the red spots on the skin by using gentle moisturisers and other skin products. Make sure not to use any exfoliating agent or harsh chemicals. 

Also, do guard your skin against irritating objects and cold temperatures. Doctors may recommend corticosteroid creams to treat eczema. In extreme cases, they may ask you to take dupilumab injections.

Strep throat

Causes and symptoms

It is a bacterial infection that affects your throat and leads to tiny red spots inside your mouth. 

The condition surfaces when a unit of group A strep bacteria releases a toxin inside your body, which causes a rash inside your throat. This condition is often accompanied by scarlet fever. 

It is prudent to consult a doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Tongue with red spots
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes


Usually, doctors recommend antibiotics to treat strep throat. This drug can help you recover fast as well as keep complications such as rheumatic fever at bay.

Additional Read: Pityriasis Rosea Rash

Insect bites

Causes and symptoms

Bites and stings by insects and bugs can cause red spots on the skin. Here is a list of such bugs and insects that can lead to different kinds of red spots on the skin:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Bedbugs
  • Ticks
  • Biting flies
  • Scabies
  • Bees and wasps
  • Fleas
  • Fire ants


Most insect bites and stings can be treated at home. You can use OTC medicines such as antihistamine creams and pills, corticosteroid creams, and more to relieve pain, swelling, and itching. However, do consult a doctor if you experience additional symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Bullseye rash around the bite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Suspected scabies infestation
  • Inflammation in your throat, tongue, lips, or face

feb-12 Illustration-Red Spots on the Skin


Causes and symptoms

Psoriasis, a skin condition, is marked by spots of different colors such as grey and purple patches on your skin.

Guttate psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that forms red spots on the skin. 

The following factors can trigger this condition:

  • Skin injury
  • Tonsilitis
  • Stress
  • Infection in the upper respiratory tract
  • Strep throat
  • Medications such as anti-malarial drugs and beta-blockers


Doctors may recommend topical ointments such as corticosteroids to minimise outbreaks. However, they may not be of help if the condition has already spread to different areas of the skin. In such cases, treatment may include the following:

  • Biologics
  • Immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine
  • Methotrexate
  • Phototherapy
Additional Read: Chickenpox Causes and Symptoms

Skin cancer

Types, causes and symptoms

Several types of skin cancers can lead to red spots on the skin. Among them, two of the most prominent ones are Bowen's disease and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). The usual cause of skin cancer is unlimited and unprotected exposure to the sun.

Bowen's disease, also known as squamous cell carcinoma, becomes visible on the skin's surface. It appears as a scaly red patch which may itch, crust over, or ooze. 

Apart from sun exposure, this condition can be triggered by human papillomavirus 16 (HPV 16) or exposure to arsenic. HPV 16 is also one of the reasons for cervical cancer.

On the other hand, BCC leads to the formation of red, brown or glossy bumps or an open sore in the skin's basal cell layer. Note that it is the most common type of skin cancer.


Both BCCs and patches caused by Bowen's disease need to remove surgically.

After knowing about all these underlying causes of red spots on the skin, it becomes much easier to understand whether a skin condition can be treated at home or need medical support. 

However, it is always prudent to speak with a doctor, even if the condition doesn't seem concerning. It is especially easy as you can now book a consultation with a dermatologist in a few clicks on the Bajaj Finserv Health App. 

Not just dermatologists, the platform hosts different specialists to provide treatment for any health issue you face. Book an online appointment right away to get personalised healthcare recommendations!

Published on 10 Feb 2023Last updated on 12 Apr 2023
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546708/

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Amit Guna

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Amit Guna

, Bachelor in Physiotherapy (BPT) , MPT - Orthopedic Physiotherapy 3

Dr Amit Guna Is A Consultant Physiotherapist, Yoga Educator , Fitness Trainer, Health Psychologist. Based In Vadodara. He Has Excellent Communication And Patient Handling Skills In Neurological As Well As Orthopedic Cases.


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