There are many possible causes of red spots on the feet, and most of them are not serious. Injuries, insect bites, irritation, and infections can all affect the skin on this part of the body, even when it is healthy.
However, it is still important for a person with red spots on the feet to find out the cause so that they can receive proper medical treatment if necessary.
In this article, we look at some of the most common reasons why people may develop red spots on their feet.
In warmer climates, people often go outdoors wearing only sandals or no shoes at all. In these cases, it is possible to get insect bites on the feet. Spiders and some insects can also bite even when a person is indoors.
Some of the most common biting insects include:
- horse and deer flies
- fire ants
Chiggers are more common in warmer southern and midwestern states, and people are more likely to get chigger bites in spring and fall.
Often, a red mark and itching are the first telltale signs of an insect or spider bite. It is important to avoid scratching the area as this can break the skin and allow bacteria to enter the body.
Instead, a person can wash the affected area with soap and water, then apply an anti-itch cream if necessary.
A person should see a doctor if the bite appears to grow or has signs of infection, such as:
A person with an infected bite may also experience a fever.
- harsh cleansers
- laundry detergents
- metals, such as nickel
- plants, including poison ivy, oak, and sumac
Contact dermatitis may cause:
- red bumps on the skin
- severe itching
- dry, cracked, or scaly skin
People can treat a minor case of contact dermatitis at home with an anti-itch or cortisone cream. Sometimes, taking a bath with colloidal oatmeal or using cool compresses can provide relief from itching. In more severe cases, however, a doctor may need to prescribe stronger medications.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious virus that can cause red spots to develop on certain body parts, including the:
- inside of the mouth
It is most common in children under the age of 5 years but can occur at any age.
A person with hand, foot, and mouth disease may have a fever or feel unwell before the red spots appear. The spots may be flat, or they might turn into painful sores or blisters.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease spreads from one person to another through bodily fluids, including:
- nose and throat secretions, which the body releases when a person coughs or sneezes
- fluid from blisters
A person can catch the disease either through direct contact with a person who has the virus or by touching a contaminated surface.
The best way to prevent hand, foot, and mouth disease is by washing the hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or caring for someone with the illness.
Most people who get hand, foot, and mouth disease will recover without long term complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the infection is viral rather than bacterial, antibiotics are not effective in treating it.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet.
It usually spreads between people in warm, moist environments, such as locker rooms, public bathrooms and showers, and swimming pools.
It also spreads from person to person on shared items, such as footwear, towels, razors, or nail clippers.
Athlete’s foot often causes itching and cracked or peeling skin, particularly near and between the toes. It can also cause raw, red skin or blisters. These blisters may show up anywhere on the feet, and they are usually itchy.
People may be able to treat mild athlete’s foot at home with over-the-counter antifungal treatments. If this does not work or the person has diabetes or other health conditions, they should see a doctor.
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is an inflammation of the skin. It is often due to an immune system overreaction and problems with the skin’s barrier. It can cause red or darkened patches of skin, as well as itching, blisters, and peeling.
The National Eczema Foundation report that 18 million adults and 9.6 million children in the United States have atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is usually chronic, and it is not contagious. Genetics may determine whether a person develops this condition.
People may have certain triggers that cause a flare-up of symptoms. Very dry skin and exposure to an allergen or irritants may play a role. People who have eczema may need to take extra steps to keep their skin moisturized and comfortable.
These may include:
- taking shorter baths or showers with water that is warm but not hot
- using gentle soaps and cleansers
- using creams or moisturizers daily and after bathing
Atopic dermatitis is not usually serious, but it can be very uncomfortable. In addition, scratching can lead to infections. Finding effective skin care products and avoiding any known triggers are generally helpful.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes the skin to renew itself too quickly. This buildup of skin cells leads to red, scaly patches that may peel, itch, or burn.
Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, including the feet. It is not contagious.
A particular type of psoriasis called palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP) may affect the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. It may cause white blisters that an area of redness surrounds.
Another type of psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, causes small red dots to appear on the skin. Guttate psoriasis affects about 10% of people who have psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Several different topical, oral, and injectable medications are available to treat psoriasis. A person’s treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of psoriasis that they have and whether they have any other health conditions.
Skin cancer can show up on any area of the body, including the feet. As there are different types of cancer, and each person’s skin is different, skin cancer symptoms can vary widely. Skin cancer may appear as:
- raised, red patches that may itch
- a mole that is changing or looks different than other moles
- an asymmetric mark or mole
- a spot with an irregular border
- a growth that may be of various colors
- a scaly patch of skin
- a sore that does not heal or keeps coming back
A cancerous growth on the skin may itch or bleed, or it may not cause any discomfort. A healthcare professional should evaluate any red spot that does not go away after a few days.
Although skin cancer can be serious, survival rates are high when a person receives early diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. In some cases, a person may also need chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatments.
Parents and caregivers should take babies and young children who develop red spots, a rash, or any other skin changes to see a doctor.
People of any age should see a doctor if they have a rash that does not go away within a few days or develop new moles or marks on their skin.
Most causes of red spots on the feet are not serious. Getting a diagnosis and treatment plan from a healthcare professional helps ensure that a person can treat any problems early and avoid complications, such as infections.
Usually, red spots on the feet are not serious. However, it is important to keep an eye on any rashes, spots, or moles.
A person should always speak with a doctor if they have skin irritations or changes that do not go away or if they have any concerns about discolorations or other marks.