Red dots on legs usually occur as a symptom of some other mild or severe underlying condition. Listed below are some common causes, associated symptoms, and treatment options for red dots on legs.
Symptoms of red dots on legs
- Red dots on legs may appear as small dots or they may be bigger patches
- The dots may be raised, flat, or lumpy; they may be full of fluids
- The borders of the skin anomalies may be clearly defined or irregular; in some cases, the boundaries may be crusty
- The dots may sometime elicit purplish or brownish-yellow tinge
- They may be few in number and affect certain areas of the legs, or they can appear throughout the legs.
Red dots on legs caused by varied conditions may be accompanied by below listed signs and symptoms:
- The onset of the symptoms/condition may be prolonged
- Poor appetite
- Nausea, vomiting
- Mild or serious fever
- Red dots on legs may be painless or cause pain
- There may or may not be flu-like symptoms
- The red dots may migrate from legs to other regions
- The dots may cause skin irritation and intense itchiness. Patients may constantly scratch the affected areas to find relief from itching. This can damage the skin and leave it vulnerable to secondary infections by bacteria or other germs
Causes of red dots on legs
Red dots on legs may occur due to below listed causative factors/conditions:
- Skin Conditions
- Petechiae: The skin surface has tiny blood vessels which can rupture due to varied causes and result in blood leakage. The leaked blood from capillaries eventually triggers the development of red dots on legs, which are referred to as petechiae. It is more common on legs, but other body areas can also get affected. There is no itching or pain. Most instances of petechiae-associated blood vessels rupture occurs due to physical injury/trauma or extreme exercising.
- Erythema nodosum: Doctors consider this rare skin condition to be a hypersensitive reaction of the fatty layers of the skin. The reddish dots or lesions typically affect the far end of the legs and occasionally the arms. Before the onset of the abnormal sports, affected people may experience flu-like symptoms like fever, body pain/ache, headache, etc. The lesions are painful and turn brownish or purplish in the later stages. They clear out in about 6 weeks but may develop again.
- Psoriasis: This common skin disorder is marked by red dots on legs along with surrounding silvery-whitish scaly skin. It is caused due to increased skin cells production. The condition has no known cure. Treatment involves alleviation and management of symptoms via medications and self-care measures.
- Dermatofibromas: This skin problem is marked by red or reddish-brown non-malignant dots on lower part of legs. The abnormal patches are generally painless, but they may be itchy and tender. The bumps are moderately firm and may persist on surface of skin for several years. They may undergo color changes during their lifetime. Doctors may not opt for medical treatment of dermatofibromas if associated symptoms are harmless or non-discomforting.
- Eczema: It is a chronic skin problem caused due to allergic reactions of skin to certain allergens/irritants. The condition is characterized by periods of abnormal and healthy skin. The condition is more common in children. It usually affects the face and neck and only occasionally causes reddish dots on legs. Eczema has not cure; treatment is focused on management of symptoms.
- Other conditions
- Allergic reactions: People may develop red dots on legs as part of an allergic reaction to intake of certain allergic foods like nuts, etc; contact with environmental allergens like mold, dust, pollen, etc; exposure to toxins, chemicals, etc; contact with certain plants like poison oak, etc; intake of certain medicines; and bee stings and bites by garden fleas, sand fleas, bed bugs, and other insects.
- Cytotoxic medications for arthritis may cause bleeding under skin surface, thereby causing red dots to appear on legs. Birth control pills and sulfa medications may also cause reddish dots on legs as a side effect or part of an allergic reaction to those drugs.
- Red dots on legs caused by bee stings and other insect bites may occur along with itchiness, bruising, hives, and swelling. In some cases, bee sting allergic reactions may require emergency care.
- Allergic reactions are treated with antihistamines, pain killers, and other medications. Patients may need to consult doctor for alternate drugs if they are allergic to certain medicines. Avoiding exposure to allergens can help prevent formation of red abnormal spots on legs.
- Schamberg’s Disease: It is another condition marked by leakage of blood vessels under skin surface; however its causes are not known. The red dots on legs are often non-itchy and painless and they may sometimes sport reddish-brown hues. Iron in red blood cells of the leakage blood imparts the color to the abnormal spots. The dots form on the feet, ankles, and legs, but eventually spread to other body areas.
- Other causes: Red dots on legs may also occur due to skin infections by bacteria or other pathogens, Bowen’s disease, ingrown hair, folliculitis, certain malignancies, diabetes, and peripheral artery disease, etc.