A variety of conditions can cause red spots, such as infectious and allergic.
Most red spots on the skin are itchy. However, some do not itch. Here are common skin disorders that cause red spots without itching

Most red spots on the skin are itchy. However, some do not itch. Here are common skin disorders that cause red spots without itching.

Skin disorders common in adults

  • Sunburn: Sunburn is a red, sometimes swollen, and painful skin rash that is caused by overexposure to the sun. It affects one-third of Americans every year.
  • Acne vulgaris: It is a common medical term for blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of pimples on the skin. More than 80% of people in the United States experience acne at some point in their life.
  • Boil (Furuncle): A boil is a bacterial infection of hair follicles that looks like a red, raised bump on the skin. It may be painful but not itchy. The affected hair follicle can be of any part of the body.
  • Infectious mononucleosis: Commonly known as the “kissing disease,” this viral infection is very common among school and college-going adolescents. In this disease, there are symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, joint pain, and sore throat along with red rash.
  • Lyme disease: It is an infectious disease transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. A rash is one of the first symptoms in about 80% of people with this disease. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and fatigue
  • Molluscum contagiosum: These are fleshy bumps caused on the skin by a virus.
  • Erythema nodosum: Erythema nodosum is a skin condition characterized by the sudden eruption of red bumps, particularly on the shins, that pain on touch.
  • Rosacea: This chronic skin condition is characterized by redness, most commonly on your cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. Itching may or may not be associated with this disease.
  • Pityriasis rosea: Pityriasis rosea causes a rash that looks like the branches of a pine tree. It clears on its own. There may be mild itching or not at all.

Skin disorders common in children

  • Roseola infantum: Roseola infantum is a viral infection of infants or very young children that causes a high fever followed by a rash.
  • Erythema infectiosum or Fifth Disease: It is a viral infection that occurs most commonly in infants and young school-going children. The rash is erythema infectiosum that appears as “slapped cheek” on the face spreads downward to the neck, arms, trunks, and limbs.
  • Scarlet fever: Commonly found in children aged between 5 and 15 years, scarlet fever features a bright red rash along with high fever and sore throat.

Less common causes

  • Vasculitis (generalized inflammation of vessels of the skin and other vital organs of the body): 
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP): It is the vasculitis of the skin, digestive system, kidneys, and joints. The leaking of blood through small blood vessels into the skin is known as purpura, which can be red or purple. The purpura is found over the legs.
  • Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN): It is a type of vasculitis affecting the skin, kidneys, and heart characterized by fever, fatigue, muscle, and joint pains. The skin may show rashes, swelling, ulcers, and lumps under the skin.
  • Erythema multiforme: Erythema multiforme is a rash that affects the skin and inner lining of the mouth triggered by drug exposure or infection. It is characterized by a typical rash resembling a bull’s eye.
  • Other viral infections: These are adenovirus, measles, and rubella.
  • Erythema marginatum: It is seen as a pink, ring-like rash on the trunk and inner surfaces of the limbs. It is a skin manifestation of rheumatic fever.
  • Rocky mountain spotted fever: It is a rash caused by a bacterial infection that spreads by ticks. The rash appears first on the wrist and ankle preceded by fever and headache.
  • Granuloma annulare: It is characterized by red, small, raised, circular bumps arranged in a ring or circle distributed over the back of forearms or feet.
  • Blisters (pemphigus vulgaris): It is a disease in which fluid-filled blisters are surrounded by rash, which is more prominently seen when the blister bursts. These blisters are distributed over the inner lining of the mouth and skin.

It is advisable to visit a board-certified dermatologist to determine the exact cause of the red spots, get treated, and avoid worsening the skin condition.

Which infectious conditions cause red spots?

A variety of conditions can cause red spots, such as infectious and allergic.
A variety of conditions can cause red spots, such as infections and allergies.

Common infections that can cause red spots include:

  • Fungal infections: Ringworm is a fungal infection that looks like a ring of red spots that surrounds a clear area. Treatment involves anti-fungal ointments and medications.
  • Shingles: They are medically known as herpes zoster. Shingles is a painful rash that can present with blisters that are formed on one side of the face or body. Since it is a viral rash, it is treated by anti-viral oral pills.
  • Roseola infantum: Roseola infantum is a viral infection that occurs in babies and causes a high fever followed by a rash. There is no specific treatment for roseola infantum. Most cases of roseola infantum are mild and self-limited. Treatment involves rest, adequate fluid intake, and medications to control fever.
  • Erythema infectiosum or Fifth disease: This is a viral infection that commonly occurs during childhood. Signs and symptoms include a red rash on the cheeks that resemble a slapped cheek, fever, sore throat, stomach upset, and headache. Generally, no treatment is necessary. An antihistamine can be used if the rash is itchy.
  • Viral diseases, such as measles, rubella, chickenpox, and COVID-19: Each of these conditions is associated with its own signs and symptoms. It is advisable to contact a doctor for correct diagnosis and treatment.

QUESTION

Ringworm is caused by a fungus. See Answer

Which allergic conditions cause red spots?

Common allergic conditions that can cause red spots include:

  • Contact dermatitis: Allergy to latex, an insect (mosquitoes, ticks) bite, and diapers (diaper rash in children) are examples of contact dermatitis. Treatment involves the use of oral pills of antihistamines and creams for local applications to relieve the itch, such as a calamine lotion or moisturizer mixed with a steroid (hydrocortisone).
  • Food allergies: People may have an allergy to certain foods, which can appear as rashes. The most common foods are fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts like walnuts. Problem foods for children can include eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, and wheat.
  • Drug rash: A sudden allergic reaction to any medicine can appear in the form of a rash. It is advisable to contact the doctor who will consider your medical history and prescribe an alternate medicine.
  • Atopic dermatitis: It often starts in babies and can either go away with age or stay permanently with flares throughout life. Atopic dermatitis treatment is aimed at managing flares and keeping the skin moisturized.
  • Poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac rash: Touching any of these plants results in blistering red spots with intense itching all over the body in most people. The red spots usually subside on their own within 7 to 21 days. Treatment includes washing the affected part with lukewarm or soapy water, applying Calamine lotion, and taking antihistamine medications to relieve the itch.

What other conditions can cause red spots?

Other common conditions that cause red spots include:

  • Heat rash: Red spots caused by over-exposure to the sun or heat are known as heat rash. Treatment involves applying a soothing lotion, such as Calamine lotion or aloe vera. Preventive measures include applying sunscreen lotion before venturing out and wearing full sleeve tops.
  • Swimmer itch: Swimmer itch is a rash that comes from being in the water where certain infected snails are present. It normally subsides on its own in about a week and medical treatment is generally not needed.
  • Acne rosacea: A chronic skin condition in which a red rash appears most commonly on the cheeks and around the nose. The disease is characterized by flares that are triggered by a variety of factors. A doctor will be able to suggest the most effective treatments.
  • Pityriasis rosea: A scaly reddish-pink rash that sweeps outward like the branches of a pine tree. It commonly appears mostly on the chest, abdomen, and back and is most common in people between 10 to 35 years of age. Treatment includes antihistamine pills.
  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis appears as silvery or red, scaly, itchy rashes, most commonly over the knee joints, elbows, fingers, and toes. There are several types of psoriasis and each appears slightly different than the other. Treatments involve the application of creams and medications to the skin, light therapy, and injectable medications.
  • Petechiae: These are red spots that appear due to the rupture of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) under the skin. These may happen in:

If your red spots cause severe discomfort and are associated with fever or unusual signs, it is vital to consult a doctor who can diagnose the condition and start treatment immediately.

SLIDESHOW

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 Rashes: Common Adult Skin Diseases See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 3/8/2022
References
Sunburn. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/773203-overview#a6

Acne vulgaris. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1069804-overview#a2

Lyme disease. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html

Allmon A, et al. Common Skin Rashes in Children. Am Fam Physician. 2015;92(3):211-216.

Petechiae. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/petechiae/basics/causes/sym-20050724

Slide show: Common skin rashes. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/skin-rash/sls-20077087