Dealing With Red Dots On Your Skin? Here Are The Common Causes

You may have heard that the skin is the largest organ in the body, so given its sheer size, it only makes sense that we may notice its flaws from time to time. Of course, most people associate facial skin with acne flare-ups, which can be stressful and even devastating if they get out of control. As we age, we have to deal with fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, stretch marks, and more. Whereas these issues develop over time, other skin disturbances can show up seemingly overnight. Often described by people as "red bumps," there's a surprising range of possibilities as to what can cause unsightly dots on the skin.

The good news is that a red dot on the skin may not be life-threatening. Skin cancers may appear as a sore that's refusing to heal, a mole that has changed in diameter, size, or color, or a brand-new growth, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you're ever concerned about any particular spot, however, don't hesitate to see the dermatologist. Red dots can be the result of many different conditions or environmental factors.

People often confuse these chronic skin conditions

Keratosis pilaris can show up as patches of red, bumpy skin, usually on the arms and legs. The bumps are actually plugs of dead skin cells. Although they are rough and sometimes itchy, they are otherwise not a big deal. As it's caused by dryness, a moisturizer containing either lactic acid or urea can help to minimize the itching and treat the area.

A lot of people confuse keratosis pilaris with another common skin ailment — eczema. Also referred to as atopic dermatitis, this chronic skin condition can flare up when the person in question is exposed to a trigger, like scented laundry detergent. It results in a rash that can appear red or even purple in color and can also cause dry skin, excessive itchiness, and even oozing. A lot of people stave off eczema outbreaks by avoiding triggers and using a moisturizer regularly, but severe cases can require medicated lotion or ointment to relieve symptoms.

Then, there's psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that makes skin grow faster than it does normally. This causes the skin to pile up, so to speak, making unsightly and irritated patches of skin on the body. Its symptoms can be confused with eczema, but a dermatologist can identify psoriasis right away.

These random bumps can pop up out of nowhere

If you're age 30 or older, you may have noticed some pin-prick-like red bumps on your skin. Called cherry angiomas, they show up in around 50% of adults past age 30 (that number jumps to 75% of those 75 or older, per the Cleveland Clinic. They aren't harmful, but they can be removed.

Broken capillaries can also show up without much warning. They can appear when blood vessels break near the surface of the skin. Broken capillaries (commonly referred to as spider veins) can be caused by a range of factors, including pregnancy, alcohol consumption, genetics, and more. 

Folliculitis is another skin condition that can show up on the buttocks, back, and chest. It is typically caused by an inflamed hair follicle. Most of the time, it'll go away on its own, but it can occasionally be exacerbated by sweat, yeast, or bacteria.

Lastly, contact dermatitis can occur when a person is exposed to an allergen. This can be anything from poison oak to a piece of jewelry, and it only affects the area where the contact is made. It can result in uncomfortable red lesions, which can be treated with a topical steroid. If it's severe, it may require more aggressive treatment by a dermatologist.