So you’ve got a red mark on your skin. Is it an allergic reaction? A stress rash? A thoughtful memento left by a month-old zit? A nasty ingrown hair — or, worse, a serious health hazard? Possibilities abound. The one thing you do know: You don’t want it there.
Identify some of the most common reasons for red marks on the skin — from spidery broken blood vessels to bumpy keratosis pilar
- Dermal nevi, benign growths that often appears in young adulthood, Looks Like: A small, firm pink mound on the skin. Dr. Rogers calls dermal nevi a safe and normal skin legion, but with that said, these babies will not go away on their own. “You are stuck with them unless you have them surgically removed by a dermatologist,” she says.
- Folliculitis (or inflamed hair follicles) is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, thought recurrent cases of ingrown hairs are also sometimes referred to as folliculitis, Dr. Jaliman says. “Ingrown hairs are hairs that grow sideways into the skin. They form because the hair curls back instead of growing straight,” she explains. What To Do About It: See a doctor, who can pinpoint whether the condition is bacterial or fungal. If the infection is severe or recurring, you may be prescribed an antibiotic cream or oral antibiotics, suggests avoiding shaving or rubbing the skin if your folliculitis is due to ingrown hairs; instead, apply warm compresses to ease irritation and discomfort. “Laser hair removal may also help in preventing ingrown hairs from occurring,” she adds.
- Cherry angioma, a common growth created by a collection of small blood vessels. “Angiomas are benign tumors that stem from an overgrowth of capillaries, Looks Like: A red, mole-like growth of any size. What To Do About It: If the sight of the growth doesn’t bother you, Dr. Jaliman says it can be left alone. “They are almost always harmless,” she says. Still, she suggests getting the growth checked out to make sure it is cherry angioma and not something else that isn’t benign. If you’d like to have a cherry angioma removed, Dr. Jaliman says that, while it’s possible, insurance often won’t pay for the procedure because it’s considered cosmetic in nature.
- A broken blood vessel, also known as a spider vein. These can occur due to weather changes, pregnancy, or genetics. When there is a change in pressure, the vessel will dilate or enlarge just beneath your skin’s surface. Looks Like: A scrawled red line on the face or body.
What To Do About It: A broken vessel on the face can be treated by applying apple cider vinegar to the area, “The apple cider vinegar will help reduce the appearance of the spider veins by lessening the redness,” If the home remedy doesn’t help or broken blood vessels are found elsewhere on the body, in-office treatments can erase them from sight. Laser treatments, like Venus Versa.
- “The most common red spots that resemble scars are secondary to acne,” “The inflammation of the acne leaves shadows of inflammation that can stay red, then fade to pink or brown depending on your skin type — and then hopefully fade away.” It Looks Like: A shadowy red spot on the face, chest, back, or other places where acne develops. What To Do About It: A three-step process to help fade acne scars. First, she suggests wearing sunscreen to prevent the scar from darkening with sun exposure. Second, recommend a treatment product with retinol or glycolic acid in order to promote skin-cell turnover. Finally, do not to pick at these marks. “This will reactivate the inflammation, make the spot red again, and push you right back to the beginning of the healing process,”
- Inflammatory papules, brought on by skin irritation. “If you see these bumps, that means you have done something to the skin that it doesn’t like, such as too much exfoliation or using a product with fragrance or essential oils that are causing irritation, It Looks Like: Small, red bumps on the cheeks or jawline that don’t look like cystic or pus-filled zits. What To Do About It: If you see these little bumps, wiping the slate clean with your skin care and avoiding active ingredients, like retinol, acids, and scrubs, until they go away. “Pull back on everything and just use basic, soothing products to help your skin settle, If the little red bumps itch after you wash your face, I would recommend coating skin with 1% hydrocortisone cream and following with moisturizer at bedtime. Repeat for a few days until they resolve.