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?
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.
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.
Latest Skin News
Daily Health News
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.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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
Top Non-Itchy Red Spots: 20 Skin Disorders Related Articles
Can Sunburn Cause Red Spots on the Skin?When does sun exposure cause red spots on the skin? Learn the causes of red spots, when to see a doctor for red spots, how to prevent red spots, and what you can do to treat red spots.
CryotherapyCryotherapy, sometimes referred to as cryosurgery, is a pain treatment procedure that uses a method of localized freezing temperatures to deaden an irritated nerve. Cryotherapy can be used to treat nerve irritation between the ribs (intercostal neuralgia), cluneal nerve entrapment, ilioinguinal neuroma, hypogastric neuromas, lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment, and interdigital neuromas, nerve entrapment (pinched nerves), and neuromas.
How Do You Get Rid of a Hickey in Seconds?A hickey is a small red, blue or purple mark on the skin caused when someone sucks or bites on your skin as done during passionate kissing. It is not possible to get rid of a hickey in seconds or minutes because the bleeding underneath the skin takes its own sweet time to clear up. A hickey may take up to two weeks to heal.
How Do You Get Rid of Keratosis Pilaris?Learn what medical treatments can help with keratosis pilaris and speed up your recovery.
Acne Cover-upsExplore quick acne cover-ups, dos and don'ts. See solutions on how to best handle pesky pimples and remedies to avoid.
Skin Picture QuizCould you identify a scabies infestation? Take the Skin Diseases Pictures Quiz and learn to identify common conditions that plague human skin.
Skin InfectionsViruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause skin infections. What is scabies? Learn about golden staph infections, cellulitis, impetigo, fifth disease, leprosy, and more. See photos of infections like chickenpox, athlete’s foot, and candida, a fungal yeast skin infection.
Skin PictureThe skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. See a picture of the Skin and learn more about the health topic.
Skin Health: How to Get Clear SkinAcne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of oil glands. Few of us are immune to breakouts, but treatments can minimize outbreaks. Follow these 15 tips for a clear complexion and skin.
Ways to Wreck Your SkinAvoid skin damage by shunning bad habits like tanning, popping pimples, exfoliating too much, poor diet, smoking, and using the wrong skincare products. Sun damage and other kinds of skin damage are avoidable if you stay away from these bad habits.
What Are the Types of Skin Lesions?A skin lesion is an abnormal growth or rash on the skin as compared to normal skin. There are two main categories of skin lesions: primary and secondary lesions. Primary skin lesions are abnormal skin conditions that may be present at birth or acquired later. Secondary skin lesions are a result of irritated or manipulated primary skin lesions.
What Causes Spider Veins on Legs?Spider veins are damaged veins that are visible beneath your skin. Learn the signs of this common issue, what causes spider veins, how doctors diagnose spider veins, and what you can do to treat spider veins.
What Foods Are Good for Rosacea?What is rosacea? Learn which foods to eat and which foods to avoid to help relieve your rosacea symptoms.
What Happens if Folliculitis Goes Untreated?What is folliculitis? Folliculitis is a common and usually minor skin condition. Learn the signs of folliculitis and what can happen if it goes untreated.
What Is the Best Treatment for Folliculitis?Learn about the symptoms of folliculitis, and how to treat it.
What Is Yaws?Yaws is an infectious disease that mainly occurs in the tropical areas of South and Central America, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. The disease is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pertenue, which causes lesions that look like bumps on the skin of the feet, hands, face, and genital area. Yaws is treated with penicillin or another antibiotic.