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16 Common Causes of Red Blotches on Skin

Red blotches on skin are a very common symptom.  These red blotches should never be ignored, as many times they are an indicator of a more serious problem.  The red patches on skin can appear anywhere on the body, but certain skin diseases tend to appear more frequently on specific body areas.  Red blotches on the face most likely would indicate something quite different than red spots on the body or itchy red patches on the legs.

Other indicators or symptoms may be helpful in providing an accurate diagnosis, such as are the red blotches on the skin raised or perhaps itchy?  Maybe the red patches on skinare dry or appear more as red skin or red bumps on skin.  Whatever the case may be, we’ve assembled a list of 16 common causes of red blotches on the skin.

16 Common Causes of Red Blotches on Skin

Causes Description

Sun Burns

Sun burn or sun damage

Sun burn or sun damage occurs when the skin is subjected to high amounts of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In severe cases, the skin can become blistered and peel. When spending time outdoors in the bright sun, be sure to wear sunblock with an SPF rating of 30 or greater and avoid the critical time of day from 10am to 2pm when the sun is highest in the sky. If you do experience a sunburn, aloe vera is a common remedy for soothing the skin.


Red blotches on skin birthmark

One of the world’s most famous birthmarks belongs to the former president of the Soviet Union Michail Gorbachev. The birthmark is evident as red blotches on the skin of his forehead. Birthmarks, often times referred to as hemangiomas, are areas of hyper pigmentation usually appearing as red skin or red patches on the skin. They are typically found at birth, hence the name birthmark, or often times form in early childhood.


Red Blotches on Skin Petechiae

Strenuous activity such as coughing or soft tissue trauma can cause the capillary beds just below the surface of the skin to rupture or become damaged. Blood from the damaged capillaries leaks into the soft tissue and appears as tiny red dots on skin. Often times criminal investigators, when looking at tiny red dots on the skin pictures, will often look for evidence of petechiae which might indicate a crime such as strangulation.



Purpura often presents as tiny red dots on skin similar to petechiae, but larger in diameter. Purpura is caused when small blood vessels become leaky and is usually a sign of a more serious condition such as vasculitis, meiningococcema or congenital rubella syndrome. Purpura can also occur when taking medication that alters the function of blood platelets. If unsure about whether you are suffering from purpura or petechiae, seek the advise of a qualified physician.


Red Blotches on Skin Allergy

Allergy or allergies can cause red blotches on skin or red bumps on skin, as evident in the picture provided to the left of a skin allergy test. When the skin comes in contact with an allergen or something that triggers an allergic event, red blotches on the skin can appear. Often times the allergen is something as simple as the alcohol in a perfume, laundry detergent or pet hair. Ingesting the allergen often times will cause the skin to flush and appear as red skin or hives.


Raised Red Blotches on Skin Hives

Hives often present as raised red blotches on skin of various shapes and sizes. Hives usually indicate a more pronounced allergic reaction. Often times hives are associated with insect stings or allergic reactions to cats or dogs. Hives should be watched very closely as serious cases can cause the throat to swell shut, blocking the ability to breathe. Hives will typically resolve when taking over-the-counter medications that contain Benadryl.

Cherry Angiomas

When looking at tiny red dots on skin pictures, cherry angiomas are usually right at the top of the list. Cherry angiomas form when blood vessels terminate at the surface of the skin. They usually form on the trunk of the body, but can appear virtually anywhere on the body. Although unsightly, cherry angiomas are relatively harmless. They tend to be hereditary and often times increase with age. Cherry angiomas can be easily removed through a variety of methods.

Cold Dry Weather

Red Blotches on Skin Cold Dry Weather

Often times harsh weather conditions can cause red blotches on the face or red patches on the skin to appear where the skin is exposed to the elements. Cold and dry weather can quickly cause the moisture in the skin to evaporate, leaving the red skin irritated, dry and possibly itchy. Inversely, hot and humid weather can cause the skin to sweat and develop a prickly heat rash. Heat rash will be discussed in a future article.

Insect Bites

Red Blotches on Skin Insect Bites

Insect bites are a very common cause of red blotches on skin. The most offending insects include fleas, mosquitos, bed bugs, lice, ticks, spiders and ants. The hallmark of insect bites is red skin that is painful and itchy. Depending on what type of insect bite you receive, the skin may swell and possibly become infected. Insect bites will have a well defined center where the skin has been punctured as demonstrated in the picture of flea bites to the left.

Poor Hygiene

Red Blotches on Skin Unhygienic Conditions

Poor hygiene or living in unhygienic conditions can lead to a myriad of skin conditions. Failure to keep oneself clean or bathe regularly can cause bacteria and viruses on the skin to multiply out of control. Telltale signs of poor hygiene include soiled clothing, an unkempt and dirty appearance, body odor, tiny red dots on the skin from scabies and red blotches or red patches on the skin. Often times, old scabs and scars are present from persistently living in unhygienic conditions.

Acne Vulgaris

Red Blotches on Skin Acne Vulgaris

Acne Vulgaris is a very common skin disorder that produces comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) that eventually rupture and heal. The healing skin will be marked with red blotches and brown blotches that will slowly start to fade as time passes. Acne Vulgaris occurs mostly in adolescence affecting the vast majority of teenagers. It mainly appears on the face, chest and upper back. Acne Vulgaris typically subsides in early adulthood.

Acne Rosacea

Red Blotches on Skin Acne Rosacea

Acne Rosasea presents as red blotches on the face, mainly on the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. The red patches on the skin may include small red bumps that may or may not contain pus, tiny visible broken blood vessels and red irritated eyes. Acne Rosacea is considered chronic and incurable. Famous people who have suffered with rosacea include former President of the United States Bill Clinton and American entertainer W.C. Fields.


Red Bumps on Skin Dermatofibromas

Dermatofibromas occur when an overgrowth of fibrous tissue in the dermis layer of the skin begins to build up. Dermatofibromas will appear as small red bumps or small brown bumps on the skin. Dermatofibromas are relatively harmless, however, they may itch or cause pain if they are bumped or knocked into. The cause of dermatofibromas is unclear, but they often appear after an insect bite or minor injury has occurred.

Diaper Rash

Red Blotches on Skin Diaper Rash

Failure to change the diaper on a baby in a timely manner will lead to red blotches on the skin, which is commonly referred to as diaper rash. Wet and soiled diapers hold the urine and fecal matter against the baby’s skin causing irritation to the skin. Urine and fecal matter are acidic and can easily burn the delicate skin of a baby if the diaper is allowed to remain in contact with the skin of the baby. Diapers should be changed often and the baby kept clean and dry.

Pyogenic Granulomas

Red Bumps on Skin Pyogenic Granulomas

Pyogenic Granulomas are a common skin grown caused by an overgrowth of capillaries near the surface of the skin. Also known as lobular capillary hemaniomas, pyogenic granulomas tend to bleed frequently due to the lesion being highly vascular in nature. They tend to occur in children and young adults, but also during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Pyogenic granulomas are easily removed through a variety of methods and are considered noncancerous.


Red Blotches on Skin Measles

Measles, also known as rubeola, morbilli or English measles is a viral infection of the respiratory system. Symptoms of measles include runny nose, cough, fever, red eyes and the hallmark sign that measles is known by, a generalized rash that gives the appearance of red skin. Tiny red dots inside the mouth may or may not be present, but if present are diagnostic for measles. Measles are highly contagious, but are rarely seen due to early childhood vaccination programs.

Treating Red Blotches on Skin, Tiny Red Dots on Skin and Red Bumps on Skin

As evidenced by the extensive list above, it is not always easy to determine what condition red blotches on the skin may be indicating. It is always best to seek the advice of a qualified physician at the first sign of any skin problems. Your doctor or dermatologist will more than likely be able to accurately diagnose and treat the condition you are suffering from.

Preventing Red Blotches on the Skin, Red Bumps on Skin and Tiny Red Dots on Skin

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Practice the following steps in order to help prevent red blotches on the skin, tiny red dots on the skin or red bumps on the skin.

  • Always practice proper hygiene.  Bathe daily with lukewarm water to help remove dirt, oils, sweat and residue from the skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  This will help your skin retain moisture and prevent it from drying out and cracking.
  • When going outdoors in the hot sun, be sure to apply a sunblock of SPF 30or greater.
  • If you do get sunburned, use aloe vera to cool and sooth the skin.
  • If you have an allergic event, try and determine the cause of the allergic reaction.  It could be due to a recent change in laundry detergent, a new perfume or even a new food in your diet.
  • Use hydrating lotion when necessary, preferably unscented.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and detergents.
  • Consult your doctor if you have red blotches on the skin that persist.

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