The appearance of red spots on arms is usually associated with a common skin condition known as keratosis pilaris. The red spots are similar in appearance to acne.
Symptoms accompanying red spots on arms
The characteristic red spots on arms caused due to keratosis pilaris are accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
- The red spots on arms are not painful and typically flesh-colored. They may sometimes become reddish due to inflammation or swelling.
- In some cases, the abnormal spots may be very itchy
- The arms are mostly affected by the abnormal red spots. However, other parts of the body such as the buttocks, legs, and even the face may get affected by the acne-like skin disorder. The red spots associated with keratosis pilaris can however be differentiated from pustular acne by the concurrent occurrence of dry, rough, and chapped patches of skin.
- Scars may not form after successful treatment of the red spots on arms. However, if the condition affects the face, then scars may develop post healing.
- Children are usually affected by the skin condition, though adults may also develop it. The condition also tends to wane during summers but may aggravate later.
Causes of red spots on arms
- Keratin is a protein which protects the skin from attack by harmful materials and infections. Increased buildup of this protein causes the characteristic red spots on arms associated with keratosis pilaris.
- Excessive levels of keratin cause the formation of a scaly plug. This then causes the hair follicle opening to fill up and clog. Individuals affected by the condition experience the development of several such scaly plugs which eventually cause the lumpy, abnormal, and chapped skin patches.
- Doctors are not aware about the exact causes of keratin accumulation. Several studies however indicate that the skin anomaly may occur due to a combination of certain factors such as some genetic abnormalities and presence of skin conditions like atopic dermatitis or ichthyosis vulgaris.
- Even healthy people can form the unique red spots on arms. The skin disorder has a tendency to deteriorate on dry skin.
Treatment of red spots on arms
Red spots on arms associated with keratosis pilaris are treated with a combination of many procedures. Treatment is aimed at decreasing the keratin deposits present below the skin via use of topical drugs, ointments, and creams, as well as different self-care measures.
- Topical retinoids help in cell turnover and subsequently unclog the hair follicles
- Topical corticosteroids are given to suppress the immune system thus decreasing cell production
- Topical exfoliants are used to loosen and moisturize the skin, remove dead skin cells, etc.
Self-care methods for treating the abnormal red spots on arms include:
- Avoid harshly scrubbing the arms during a shower or bath as it can increase skin irritation and worsen the skin condition
- Use a humidifier at work and home
- Do not use bath shampoos or soaps with harsh chemicals
- After a shower, pat dry the arms and other affected areas with a cotton towel. Later, you can use a moisturizer to wet the arms.