When you see red, brown, or pink spots on your skin, you may think it is cancer, but it is more likely to be harmless. Those with fairer skin tones are also more likely to notice these spots. You can use other features such as fine bumps, scaly skin, or raised borders to detect the marks on darker skin.

Here are the causes, risk factors, and side effects of these spots.

What Conditions Cause Spots on the Skin?

Several conditions can cause spots on the skin, ranging from itchy dry patches to moles or other growths. Here are some of the most common categories of conditions that can cause spots.

Skin Infections

Several types of infections can cause spots. For example, folliculitis occurs under the hair follicles, which can appear as sudden acne with painful red-ringed spots. Folliculitis typically goes away naturally, but warm compresses and loose clothing help too. A tinea infection will appear as a small red birthmark, and can spread on the skin and infect others. For treatment, use a prescription soap. Finally, warts caused by HPV are painless spots that appear on your face and hands. Plantar warts develop on the bottom of the feet, making them painful when walking. They are removable through laser treatment and prescription drugs.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most concerning cause for spots on the skin. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are more common and can cause itching and bleeding. Melanoma is more serious and causes asymmetrical or uneven moles that change over time. Sunscreen is important to prevent skin cancer, and if you notice a suspicious spot, you should see a dermatologist right away.

Benign Growths

Several benign growths can present as pink, brown, or red spots. This includes skin tags, which can become more irritated by consistent friction and can be frozen or numbed before being snipped off by your dermatologist. A cherry angioma is another common growth, which is caused by a group of enlarged blood vessels that form a red bump. Finally, age spots known as solar lentigines can be caused by excess sun exposure over time, but are harmless.

Rashes and Dry Skin

Common causes of dry skin or types of rashes can affect patients. For example, eczema causes red, itchy, and swollen spots, making the skin feel rough, bumpy, and blistered. You can manage symptoms using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Keratosis pilaris is caused by dead skin cells, which appear as small and rough red spots on the upper arms, buttocks, cheeks, and thighs. To treat this condition, use chemical exfoliants to smooth your skin’s texture or prescription treatments. Psoriasis is an autoimmune inflammatory condition that causes skin cells’ fast production, leading to red spots, crusty patches, and raised bumps. They appear on the lower back, scalp, elbows, and knees.

Risk Factors

While the causes of red, pink, or brown spots are so varied, meaning that a wide range of patients may experience them, there are some common risk factors. These primarily include age, genetics, and stress. Environmental elements, like excessive cold or sun exposure, can also increase your risk, as can consistent rubbing or chafing from skin folds or clothing. Finally, patients may be at a higher risk due to allergies, especially from irritating chemicals in skincare or household products.

Side Effects of Red, Brown, and Pink Spots

Various conditions that result in red, brown, or pink spots can cause side effects. Depending on the condition, this can include itching, dryness, infections, blood pressure, headaches, rash, kidney disease, and gastrointestinal issues.

Consultation at Kwan Dermatology, San Francisco

Please book a consultation with Dr. Kwan at Kwan Dermatology today for assistance with any brown, pink, or red spots on your skin. Reach us through our website or call us.