Causes of Raised Red Spots on Skin – Small or Big

Raised red spots or dots on legs

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Almost everyone has ever had raised red spots, bumps or dots on their skin. Although they could be a different color including black, brown, pink or white, we are focusing on red ones, i.e., the raised spots are usually red in color, which may be big or small (tiny), itchy or non-itchy and bumpy in appearance

While some red spots on skin are flat, there are there are those that are raised. The red color could be due to many things including them being blood-filled. They can appear anywhere, including the face, arms, back, neck, abdomen, and legs.

These raised spots could be rashes or something else. They are attributed to many factors such as:

Raised red spots or dots on legs

Raised red spots or dots on legs

  • Skin infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Skin irritation
  • Trauma
  • Clogging of sweat pores or hair follicles

In most cases, raised red spots are types of benign, i.e., they are not cancerous. They are rarely cancerous.  Due to their raised shape and nature the red spots are known as papules and due to their redness, they are referred to as erythema.

Identification and symptoms

There are many signs you can check to identify them. For instance, the small red dots on skin signify internal bleeding. The bleeding results from small blood vessels bursting. There are many other causes as we are going to see.

Small red spots on skin take two main forms:

  • Raised spots
  • Flat spots

Due to their bumpy appearance, these dots or pimple-like spots are a real bother, especially when they occur on the face.

Just have a close look at your skin and check the red spots. Check your face, legs, abdomen or chest, other places or spread all over your body. What causes them? Let us look at the most common causes of these red bumps which we have said can be small or bigger.

10 Main reasons for raised red spots on the skin

These spots may mean different things. When you first note them, you may think that it is acne or something minor you can just ignore. However, unless you know the cause, do not ignore them since according to they may signify something simple or a serious skin condition.

Commonly, raised red colored dots bumps on your body are attributed to the following risk factors:

Skin warts

Warts are common skin infections caused by human papillomavirus. Warts can target your hands or even feet. It is a common condition in children and teenagers. However, adults may also get them.

A wart appears like a raised red spot. Wart bumps can be small or bigger and they often have a rough in texture. Commonly, a wart looks like a red solid blister. It can either be common warts, plantar or even pigmented one.

Warts are caused by papillomavirus (HPV) and some types might bleed if agitated especially genital warts. Besides being red, warts can also be flesh-colored or even darker in appearance.

Skin cysts

A skin cyst is mostly a painless raised bump which may be red in color (large ones may cause some pressure or pain).

Cysts indicate an infection in the epidermis. Because of this infection, some mass (liquid or semi-liquid) accumulates under your skin surface, thus it becomes raised. Cysts are commonly found in hairy body parts, including the head, legs, and arms.

Cysts are more common in men than women. According to, skin cysts manifest in the form of bright red spots on the skin. Cysts shouldn’t worry you. In most cases, they heal on their own.

However, cysts can get sore due to irritation. In such cases, they become severely inflamed and red. Consequently, they may get pus-filled.


Although they are not commonly associated with acne, research has shown that acne also has a role to play in the emergence of these raised red spots. Acne Vulgaris is the most common skin condition across the globe, as noted by

The condition is attributed to clogging of hair follicles by oil, dust and dead skin cells. Because of the clogging, one develops raised pimples. Acne mainly manifests in the form of whiteheads or blackheads. However, there are times when the skin bumps turn red especially if it is irritated or infected.

Acne is common on the face, back and chest regions. When it occurs on the face, it may terribly affect how you look. It is the leading cause of stress, depression and low self-esteem.

Can be a mosquito bite

This sounds unbelievable but true. The appearance of these bumps on the body can be due to mosquito bites. According to, one of the common symptoms of mosquito bites is raised red spots, especially on hands and face.

Once a mosquito bites you, the skin turns around and puffy. The puffy dot or bump is usually raised. With time, the bump becomes hard and red. The area around the bump may also appear swollen. Generally, mosquito bites are itchy.


Some people call it seven-year itch. If your skin gets infested by Sarcoptes scabiei, you get scabies. As a result, you develop severely itchy pimple. Such a pimple is red and raised. It is believed that the mites causing scabies burrow under the skin.

Scabies bumps appear on the face or any other body part that is exposed to the sun. However, they are common on the wrist, waistline or between fingers. The itching and severity of scabies get worse at night.

Skin tag

Do you know what a skin tag is? It is a small tumor that is benign in nature. It is also known as acrochordon. The tumor appears in the form of the raised bump which may be big or small and they are common on armpit, neck, groin area and armpit.

In terms of color, they may be dark or purple whereas some may be red, and they may cause some pain. However, these are rare. Most of them are painless.

Though they are painless, they may interfere with how you look. They, however, they are not cancerous. They contain fat cells, thus getting raised above the skin.

For men, skin tags make shaving uncomfortable, especially where they occur on the beard region. They may be irritated by clothes and some jewelry.


This is a skin bacterial infection. Cellulitis affects the dermis and subcutaneous fat, especially on legs, calves, thighs, and abdomen. It is characterized by raised bumps.

Cellulitis mainly targets the legs and the face. However, other body parts may not be spared. Unlike other skin conditions, cellulitis may make be accompanied by pain. People with this condition may also feel unusually tired and may have a fever.

The risk factors to cellulitis are old age and obesity among others. The condition is mainly attributed to two bacteria namely:

  • Streptococci
  • Staphylococcus aureus

However, this condition is easily managed by use of ointments and antibiotics. You can also use antihistamines to relieve the itching.


Psoriasis comes along with the formation of extra skin cells. These are formed in an unusually higher rate. The extra cells form red patches and spots that are usually raised. The raised red dots and spots are severely itchy and at times painful.

Unfortunately, this condition has not cured. However, the symptoms can be controlled. You can prevent them from growing and spreading.

You can identify psoriasis by checking some of the following symptoms:

  • Red patches, dots, and raised spots
  • Small spots that look like scales
  • The area around the spots become dry and cracked
  • Apart from red spots, your joints become stiff and swollen

Commonly, psoriasis come and disappears after a few weeks. The condition is, however, recurrent. It affects the scalp, forehead, nails genitals, chests and legs among other body parts.

Skin cancer

This sounds scary. Some raised mainly patches with irregular shape may be due to skin cancer. However, this is rare. It mainly takes three forms namely:

  • Basal-cell skin cancer
  • Squamous-cell skin cancer
  • Melanoma

These forms are mainly found in areas that are usually exposed to UV rays. Light-skinned people are at a higher risk of getting it. It is mainly treated through radiotherapy and chemotherapy.


When these spots occur in children, it could be chicken pox. It is a common viral infection among children. One develops flu-like symptoms alongside other symptoms such as itchy raised red spots.

Apart from these spots or bumps, you are also likely to see the following symptoms:

  • Stomachache
  • A sore throat
  • Fever
  • A headache
  • General body weakness

Chickenpox is attributed to the varicella-zoster virus. However, it can be prevented by vaccinating your child. Viral medications may be recommended to reduce the symptoms caused by chicken pox.

As we have seen, many things can cause these raised bumps. It is good to go for a proper diagnosis if you are not sure what causes yours. This will ensure you get proper treatment and dispel any unfounded fear you may be having.


  1. Red Spots on the Skin: Symptoms & Signs
  2. Red spots on skin: Pictures, causes, treatment
  3. Itchy red rash and spots on your skin, what could they be?
  4. Why Are There Red Dots On My Skin?
  5. What’s Causing This Raised Bump on My Skin?
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