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Causes for light red bumps on the skin range from common conditions that you can treat at home to more serious causes that require a doctor's visit. Read more below to learn about red bumps on skin and what they mean for you.
8 most common causes
10 causes of light red or pink bumps on skin
This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation)
Nonspecific dermatitis, or contact dermatitis, simply means inflammation of the skin from many different causes.
Most nonspecific dermatitis is caused by skin contact with a substance that provokes a reaction, which could be anything from plants to soap to jewelry to fabrics. Some may be due to an autoimmune condition, where the body's immune system attacks itself.
Risk factors include a family or personal history of allergies, asthma, or other condition which weakens the immune system; or constant contact with metals, plant life, or chemicals.
Symptoms commonly include red, swollen skin rash with itching, blistering, or oozing, which may become painful and infected.
Dermatitis itself is not contagious but can interfere with quality of life. A medical provider can help with managing the symptoms.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and sometimes skin biopsy and patch testing.
Treatment involves using protective measures if the substances cannot be avoided; making nutritional improvements to strengthen the immune system; using corticosteroid or other creams; and phototherapy.
Top Symptoms: red rash, itchy rash, painful rash
Symptoms that always occur with non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation): red rash
Psoriasis causes an overgrowth of surface skin cells, creating a red, scaly, itchy, and painful rash.
It is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own healthy skin cells. It may be genetic in origin but triggered by anything that further strains the immune system, such as infections, skin injury, alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking, and stress.
Symptoms may come and go in cycles lasting weeks or months. They include red patches of thickened skin, sometimes with gray-white scales; dry, cracked, bleeding skin; stiff and swollen joints; and thickened, misshapen nails.
It is important to see a medical provider for care, because psoriasis can interfere with quality of life. It is associated with higher risk of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
Treatment involves different combinations of topical medications, oral medications, and phototherapy with natural or artificial light. Lifestyle changes such as improved diet, quitting smoking, and managing stress are very helpful in many cases.
Top Symptoms: itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, rash with well-defined border, painful rash, scaly rash
Symptoms that never occur with psoriasis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Pimples are also called comedones, spots, blemishes, or "zits." Medically, they are small skin eruptions filled with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.
Pimples often first start appearing at puberty, when hormones increase the production of oil in the skin and sometimes clog the pores.
Most susceptible are teenagers from about ages 13 to 17.
Symptoms include blocked pores that may appear flat and black on the surface, because the oil darkens when exposed to the air; blocked pores that appear white on the surface because they have closed over with dead skin cells; or swollen, yellow-white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by reddened skin.
Outbreaks of pimples on the skin can interfere with quality of life, making the person self-conscious about their appearance and causing pain and discomfort in the skin. A medical provider can help to manage the condition, sometimes through referral to a dermatologist.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination.
Treatment involves improving diet; keeping the skin, hair, washcloths, and towels very clean; and using over-the-counter acne remedies.
Top Symptoms: pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump
Symptoms that always occur with pimple: pink or red facial bump
Non-specific skin rash
Nonspecific skin rash means any sort of unexplained outbreak on the skin.
Common causes of rash are contact dermatitis, sun damage, or allergic reaction. However, many rashes are a symptom of disease and should not be ignored.
Nonspecific rashes have widely varied symptoms:
- May be flat and smooth; slightly raised or with swollen welts; clean and dry; or blistered and oozing.
- May spread widely over the body, or be confined to one site.
- May appear after eating certain foods; or after exposure to certain plants or to insect stings or bites.
- Other symptoms may be present, including pain anywhere in the body; nausea; vomiting; fever; headache; or abdominal pain and upset.
Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination to determine the exact type, location, and history of the rash, along with any other symptoms that may be present.
Those symptoms will be investigated with blood tests or imaging. Skin swabs may be taken and tested. After the process has ruled out as many causes as possible, a course of treatment can be determined.
Top Symptoms: rash
Symptoms that always occur with non-specific skin rash: rash
Urgency: Wait and watch
Non-melanoma skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a type of skin cancer. The most common spots for this cancer are the head (including scalp, lips, ears, and mouth), legs, and the backs of the hands and the arms. It appears on the skin as a tiny, painless bump or patch. The main risk factor for developing this condition is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sun exposure and tanning beds are both sources of UV radiation. People with a history of sunburns, previous skin cancer, and a weakened immune system are at higher risk for this condition.
Most cases of SCC can be easily treated because they grow slowly. Though if not treated, it can spread inside the body. Your provider will do a skin exam and possibly skin sample test, known as a biopsy. Treatment will depend on where the cancer is, its size, and your medical history. Some treatment options include cutting out the bump, freezing it, or using medicated skin cream.
Top Symptoms: rash on sun-exposed areas, rash with well-defined border, painful rash, light red or pink bump on skin, scaly rash
Symptoms that always occur with non-melanoma skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma): rash on sun-exposed areas
Symptoms that never occur with non-melanoma skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma): fever
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Mosquito bites are bites from flying insects that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. s are more common during the summer or in warmer climates, at dawn or dusk, and near bodies of water.
In most cases, mosquito bites will cause a local skin reaction that gets better on its own over days or weeks. Less commonly, children may develop recurrent itchy bumps called papular urticaria. In rare cases, some people may develop severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. In addition, mosquitoes may carry viruses that cause encephalitis, Chikungunya Fever, and Zika virus.
The diagnosis is made by history and exam. Treatment options include washing the bite and using ice or cold packs or topical medications to relieve itching. More severe reactions may require oral allergy medications or epinephrine injection.
You can safely treat this at home. In most cases, an oral antihistamine like Benadryl or anti-itch lotion will provide complete relief.
Irritant contact dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis means a skin reaction that is caused by directly touching an irritating substance, and not by an infectious agent such as a bacteria or virus.
Common causes are soap, bleach, cleaning agents, chemicals, and even water. Almost any substance can cause it with prolonged exposure.
Contact dermatitis is not contagious.
Anyone who works with an irritating substance can contract the condition. Mechanics, beauticians, housekeepers, restaurant workers, and health care providers are all susceptible.
Symptoms include skin that feels swollen, stiff, and dry, and becomes cracked and blistered with painful open sores.
A medical provider can give the best advice on how to heal the skin and avoid further irritation. Self-treatment can make the problem worse if the wrong creams or ointments are used.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, to find out what substances the patient comes into contact with, and through physical examination of the damaged skin.
Treatment involves avoiding the irritating substance if possible. Otherwise, the person can use petroleum jelly on the hands underneath cotton and then rubber gloves.
Top Symptoms: rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash
Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis: rash with well-defined border
Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
Hives, or urticaria, are flat red welts that can appear anywhere on the skin and usually itch. The cause is an allergy, either to something eaten or to something that has touched the skin. Foods, medicines, certain plants, or even sunlight are common causes, as are stress, infections, and autoimmune illness.
Symptoms include an itchy, stinging rash of slightly swollen skin welts that may come and go continuously, so that there are always some hives visible. Acute will disappear within six weeks, but chronic last longer.
Persistent hives should be seen by a medical provider, both to ease the symptoms and to make sure the allergy is not a serious one.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, blood tests, and sometimes allergy tests.
Hives often resolve on their own, especially in children since they may outgrow their allergies. Otherwise, treatment for acute hives involves an antihistamine medication taken by mouth to help relieve the itching and stinging. Chronic hives may additionally be treated with corticosteroids, antibiotics, and other stronger medicines.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, dermatitis, atopic eczema, or AD, is a chronic skin condition with an itchy rash.
AD is not contagious. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens.
AD is most often seen in infants and young children. Most susceptible are those with a family history of AD, asthma, or hay fever.
Infants will have a dry, scaly, itchy rash on the scalp, forehead, and cheeks. Older children will have the rash in the creases of elbows, knees, and buttocks.
Without treatment, a child may have trouble sleeping due to the intense itching. Constant scratching may cause skin infections and the skin may turn thickened and leathery.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination, patient history, and allergen skin tests.
AD cannot be cured, but can be controlled through prescribed medications, skin care, stress management, and treatment of food allergies. Those with AD often have allergies to milk, nuts, and shellfish. Keeping the skin clean and moisturized helps prevent flareups.
Non-specific insect bite
Insect bites are very common. The saliva given off during the bit can sometimes cause dangerous allergic reactions that affect your ability to breathe. However, the vast majority of insect bites have no adverse effects besides the inflammation where the bite occurred.
Questions your doctor may ask about light red or pink bump on skin
- Any fever today or during the last week?
- What color is the skin change?
- Is your rash raised or rough when you run your hand over the area of skin?
- Does the rash have a clearly defined border?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
Light red or pink bump on skin symptom checker statistics
People who have experienced light red or pink bump on skin have also experienced:
- 8% Feeling Itchy Or Tingling All Over
- 5% Vaginal Itch Or Burning
- 4% Itchy Rash
People who have experienced light red or pink bump on skin were most often matched with:
- 50% Non-Specific Dermatitis (Skin Inflammation)
- 50% Irritant Contact Dermatitis
People who have experienced light red or pink bump on skin had symptoms persist for:
- 29% Over a month
- 27% Less than a week
- 25% Less than a day
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant.
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