Let’s face it, any kind of flare-up – from acne to eczema – is frustrating. But, when your complexion concern is general red spots, with no immediately obvious cause, it can be incredibly annoying.
Red spots on your skin can arise for many different reasons, but pinpointing the precise cause is the fastest way to start to deal with them.
If you’ve found yourself on this page, then it’s likely you’re scratching your head wondering why, all of a sudden, you have a smattering of small, angry blemishes trailing their way across your face, torso, back, legs (delete as applicable). To try and help you decipher what's going on, we called on skin specialist and founder of facialsculpting.co.uk, Dr Nina Bal.
What causes red spots?
'Red spots on the surface of the skin could be a number of things,' says Dr Bal. 'Temporary spots could be a result of heat rash, psoriasis, erythema, acne, eczema, hives, cold sores, bug bites, or a combination. Permanent spots, on the other hand, could be a condition called petechiae, this is when blood leaks from capillaries on the skin resulting in red spots.' Lovely.
Red spots can occur during pregnancy especially nearer to the due date. Known as polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP) it is thought to be caused by changes in hormones and the stretching of skin and results in itching, small red bumps and inflamed patches that often occur on the abdomen and limbs.
And then those red spots could be caused by shaving rash...
Can the season affect what the cause could be?
'Yes, certainly. Red spots (such as heat rash, which are accompanied by a prickly, itchy feeling) are more common in summer when skin is more prone to redness, sensitivity, and irritation,' notes Dr Bal.
As for placement, Dr. Bal tells WH that, 'petechiae are most common on the stomach, legs and arms.'
We know that more often eczema and psoriasis tend to appear on the elbows, knees and scalp, but these won’t just cause red spots you’ll also get scaly skin texture and itchiness too.
Acne can occur on the face, chest and back, places where there are plenty of pores and oil glands. Of course, acne is more than just red spots, these can be accompanied by pus-filled breakouts and under the skin cysts.
Can stress cause red spots?
It seems no part of our body is immune to the effects of stress. 'Stress can have an impact on the entire body, including on your skin,' says Dr. Bal. 'This is because stress increases body heat and blood flow, which can result in an impact of redness, spots and irritation.'
Are red spots something to worry about?
'They could be, as potentially they could be connected to sepsis (a very serious immune response to an infection), certain medications, or they could even be a sign of potential medical conditions such as vasculitis, thrombocytopenia, leukemia and Vitamin C or K deficiency,' warns Dr. Bal.
If you notice red spots occurring on your body unexpectedly, and you can rule out shaving rash or breakouts then Dr. Bal says you should 'definitely consult with your doctor straight away to rule out potentially dangerous conditions.'
How can you get rid of red spots?
Knowing the cause of your red spots can set you on a path towards a solution. Your GP should be able to identify the cause and prescribe medication if needed. When it comes to those permanent red spots—petechiae—Dr. Bal says 'we often recommend not to remove petechiae, as the laser used during the treatment can leave a scar which can be aesthetically worse than the red spots themselves.'
If your petechiae is really annoying you, look to a highly pigmented concealer to cover it. Check out WH's edit of the best concealers, here.
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